The author of Lenny Bruce Is Dead (2006) rewrites the Bible.
Goldstein is an alumnus of “This American Life,” and he seems to be aiming for that show’s mix of off-kilter humor and earnest tenderness. He achieves neither goal. In his hands, the sacred narratives of Christianity and Judaism are reduced to simpering, awkwardly contemporary little fables or bad jokes. Paradise is a garden full of trees “hung with fried eggs and home fries.” Noah is an old crank who believes in the value of hard work; his son Ham is artsy, and Ham’s wife spends her time on the ark painting flowers on rocks. The story of Jonah and the whale begins with a weirdly sexual childhood episode and develops into a narrative of Jonah’s brother Vito’s efforts to ensure that his slow, dreamy sibling gets laid. There are a few touching or amusing moments—Adam wondering “what it was like to be a kid”; Moses descending Mount Sinai, “his nerves shot”—but they’re buried in precious, unilluminating metaphors and pointless, unfunny wackiness. It’s the Bible as rewritten by a mildly precocious teenager.
Not as good as the original.