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by James Morrow

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1996
ISBN: 0-15-100192-8
Publisher: Harvest/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

 Twelve tales, 198494, drawn from various publications, by the author of Towing Jehovah (1994), etc. The main thrust here isn't always biblical, though satire looms large--along with dollops of ironic, iconoclastic, or subversive wit. The dazzlingly effective best of a decidedly superior bunch: A murderously mutinous WW I American infantry private ends up in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with a permanent honor guard; reversing his Babel decision, God gives everyone the power of perfect comprehension--with equally devastating results; a robot civilization adheres to the Darwinian principle of natural selection, despite the manifest impossibility of its applying to them; and the sad story of Gunther Black, a man with multiple personalities so numerous that they form nations--and conduct war! In other notable what-ifs, Moses never receives a replacement set of law tablets; Lincoln considers signing an armistice; Helen decides to put an end to the Trojan War; Ebenezer Scrooge lives out his days as an unregenerate capitalist rascal; and Job realizes he's been duped and demands a rematch. Elsewhere, a dead woman's donated organs yearn to reunite; Noah ponders the possibility of other survivors; and, finally, in a rather silly fable, a farmer's wife gives birth to planet Earth. A splendidly provocative series of engagements for supple and enquiring minds; mandatory for fanatics of any stripe.