Campalani imagines the inner monologues of Jesus Christ in this short prose collection.
Campalani’s Jesus desires only love from an early age, knowing, as he does, what his future has in store for him. As a child, he asks Mary whether he can sleep in her bed, where he can feel safe and warm; “No,” she replies, “you must get used to loneliness. You’ll die alone.” Though the title refers to three voices, the narrators of all three sections are Jesus Christ at different ages. “Jesus” covers his early years, with vignettes describing his parents, his teachers, and his apprehension about his destiny. “Christós” covers the major events of his ministry, including his baptism, his time in the desert, and the Last Supper. The brief “Jhavè” limns his death on the cross, which involves him imagining a mirror that reveals his own difficult identity. Intro and outro sections—“First Letter” and “Farewell Letter”—bookend the work, which totals 48 pages. Campalani’s treatment of her subject matter is both subdued and earnest. She doesn’t go for irony or revisionism, but neither does she rob her subject of relatable human emotion. The result is a work that approaches the tragedy and affection that its source text must have originally possessed before it became dulled by centuries of reiteration. While Campalani’s language (or perhaps it is Sage’s translation from the Italian) sometimes veers into the abstract or clichéd (“This is my baptism of fire….You will join the revolution”), there are many small, quiet moments that show Christ as an individual. In one early scene, the child Jesus comforts his widowed mother who, after being rejected by a man at a wedding, realizes she can no longer be a sexual being: “She put a hand on my head to caress my hair. In that moment, my mum died as a woman, and she became the Mother: the earth, the moon, humidity, the night breeze, its thickness everywhere, the soil, the womb, honey, milk, pomegranate trees.” They feel real, and it is startling.
A well-executed rumination on ancient and