This Gospel according to Klavan (Face of the Earth, 1980; Darling Clementine, 1988) tells the story of a flesh-and-blood...



This Gospel according to Klavan (Face of the Earth, 1980; Darling Clementine, 1988) tells the story of a flesh-and-blood Jesus through a failed mishmash of poetry, prose, and plain-awful stream-of-consciousness. Much of Klavan's novel follows the New Testament closely, the prose and content gaining interest and distinction only where it paraphrases the parables or quotes directly. Among the major departures: Jesus is a middle child born to Mary and Joseph; he disappoints his family by refusing to participate in the carpentry business. Mary is especially disturbed by his interest in the spiritual life; her own father's religious preoccupations stood in the way of his supporting a family; thus she was married off to a crude, prosperous carpenter she did not love. Judas and Mary Magdalene are lovers; he wishes to marry her but is rejected because she prefers the cosmic love of Jesus. Eventually, Judas betrays Jesus not for money, but to avert what he fears will be a bloodbath. Meanwhile, much of the poetry that appears throughout is attributed to Jesus; while its general mediocrity might help emphasize the view of Jesus as a flawed mortal, this does not seem to be the intent. Among the non-Jesus poems are examples of obscene doggerel; at their best, these verses expand our vision of New Testament times to include an earthy folk culture (especially the satiric song about the couplings of Roman Emperors, as sung by a drunken Judas), but most of the time, the rhymes are glaringly self-indulgent and merely inappropriate. The consciousness of Mary Magdalene is expressed through eight chapters of sentences in the following mode: ""What with this fat bum fucking my fat bum and me squealing fuck me hit me and him slapping my ass grunting like a galley crew he can hardly breathe and the foul farts from the fish he eats like a whale opening his yaw to suck it in well it's all faking but would he turn his back and walk away?"" A few bright touches are not enough to redeem this revisionist view of the roots of Christian belief.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1988


Page Count: -

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1988