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Passionate, sensual, politically fervent and oddly compelling.

A controversial early novel by a noted British writer, published in the U.S. for the first time, imagines a fifth and feminist gospel, written by Jesus’ lover, Mary Magdalene.

The author of 11 novels, Roberts (Reader, I Married Him, 2006, etc.) has frequently explored the subjects of women and spirituality. This book, first published in the U.K. as The Wild Girl in 1984, proposes a more gender-balanced version of Christianity. Mary herself is a combination of Mary of Bethany (sister to Martha and Lazarus) and Magdalene the sinner. In Roberts’ imagination, she is still a prostitute, but also a visionary given to mystical dreams, spontaneous songs and speeches, in a society in which women are second-class citizens. She meets Jesus when Lazarus brings him home and quickly becomes “the companion of the Saviour,” i.e. his lover and one of the key women in his group of disciples. After a year of traveling and preaching, the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the arrest, trial and crucifixion, it is Mary who sees the risen Christ first and hears the messages for his followers. But Simon Peter—the repressed celibate antithesis to Mary’s earthy inclusiveness—rejects her upholding of male and female integration and union as so much women’s talk. Only when 11 male disciples see Him does the mission to preach the new faith begin, under Simon Peter’s leadership, with an all-male priesthood that excludes Mary’s egalitarianism. She, Martha, the Lord’s mother and a woman named Salome plan their own mission but find themselves shipwrecked near Massilia (Marseilles), where Mary gives birth to her daughter Deborah, then finishes the book.

Passionate, sensual, politically fervent and oddly compelling.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-933648-56-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and...

An amazingly intricate and ambitious first novel - ten years in the making - that puts an engrossing new spin on the traditional haunted-house tale.

Texts within texts, preceded by intriguing introductory material and followed by 150 pages of appendices and related "documents" and photographs, tell the story of a mysterious old house in a Virginia suburb inhabited by esteemed photographer-filmmaker Will Navidson, his companion Karen Green (an ex-fashion model), and their young children Daisy and Chad.  The record of their experiences therein is preserved in Will's film The Davidson Record - which is the subject of an unpublished manuscript left behind by a (possibly insane) old man, Frank Zampano - which falls into the possession of Johnny Truant, a drifter who has survived an abusive childhood and the perverse possessiveness of his mad mother (who is institutionalized).  As Johnny reads Zampano's manuscript, he adds his own (autobiographical) annotations to the scholarly ones that already adorn and clutter the text (a trick perhaps influenced by David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest) - and begins experiencing panic attacks and episodes of disorientation that echo with ominous precision the content of Davidson's film (their house's interior proves, "impossibly," to be larger than its exterior; previously unnoticed doors and corridors extend inward inexplicably, and swallow up or traumatize all who dare to "explore" their recesses).  Danielewski skillfully manipulates the reader's expectations and fears, employing ingeniously skewed typography, and throwing out hints that the house's apparent malevolence may be related to the history of the Jamestown colony, or to Davidson's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a dying Vietnamese child stalked by a waiting vulture.  Or, as "some critics [have suggested,] the house's mutations reflect the psychology of anyone who enters it."

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and cinema-derived rhetoric up the ante continuously, and stunningly.  One of the most impressive excursions into the supernatural in many a year.

Pub Date: March 6, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-70376-4

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2000

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Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Steinbeck refuses to allow himself to be pigeonholed.

This is as completely different from Tortilla Flat and In Dubious Battle as they are from each other. Only in his complete understanding of the proletarian mentality does he sustain a connecting link though this is assuredly not a "proletarian novel." It is oddly absorbing this picture of the strange friendship between the strong man and the giant with the mind of a not-quite-bright child. Driven from job to job by the failure of the giant child to fit into the social pattern, they finally find in a ranch what they feel their chance to achieve a homely dream they have built. But once again, society defeats them. There's a simplicity, a directness, a poignancy in the story that gives it a singular power, difficult to define.  Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 1936

ISBN: 0140177396

Page Count: 83

Publisher: Covici, Friede

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1936

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