Wednesday, March 13, 2013

[Joshua] needs a friend to teach him to be human.

This review is going to be a mess. I need to warn you about this ahead of time. Because you see, I LOVE this book. Love it.
 photo tumblr_inline_mgbwmcEAyN1ry4xc9.gif
There's no way this is going to be a coherent post. I'm going to try to make it coherent. I am. But there's going to be a lot of gushing.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore is my most favoritest book. It's hilarious. It's touching. It's though provoking. It literally makes me laugh out loud and ugly cry. (Not the same scenes. That'd be schizophrenic.) An old co-worker of mine tried to get me to read the book for months and I don't know why I didn't listen to her at once. I'm stupid like that. But I finally did read it and I loved it.

The book is about the life of Joshua (aka Jesus, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Yeshua and not like a fake name for the guy) focusing on the parts the Bible missed. And who better to tell that story than his BFF Biff (aka Levi, Biff is his nickname and the sound of someone smacking him upside the head)? The majority of the tale follows Josh and Biff as they travel to the east to meet with the three Magi and learn what Josh needs to know to become the Messiah.

I feel like with that description I need to add two different disclaimers. On the one hand, it sounds like a religious story. I mean it is about Jesus and the Magi and the end of the book deals with the Jesus's teachings in its own ways. I wouldn't say I'm particularly religious. I am technically Catholic, though I haven't been to church in a long time. I know the times to stand up, sit down, kneel; I know what to say at the appropriate times; I know some of the bigger Bible stories, and that's about it. So what I'm saying is you don't need to be particularly religious to love this book.

On the other hand, if you are very religious, you also shouldn't worry about this book being blasphemous and anger inducing. When I went to a book signing for Moore's Sacre Bleu he was talking about Lamb and how worried he was that people would be so mad at this book at him for defiling Jesus. And how surprised he was that he never got any of that backlash. Not only that, but the book is being taught at Harvard Divinity School. So even if you are religious, you should read this book. Cos you'll probably love it.

What I'm saying is everyone should read this and love it.

Like other Moore books, this one has sex and creative cursing and all that good stuff. And things like the origin of Judo (or Jew-do, a form of kung-fu taught to Joshua by the Shaolin monks because "what if Jesus knew kung-fu" is an important question that needs answered). And if Josh is really to understand sin, who better than Biff to explain it to him? It even has characters from other books, like Catch from Practical Demonkeeping and Raziel from The Stupidest Angel. See, hilarious.

It's Biff and Josh's relationship that is the best. Biff is sarcastic (he did invent it after all), a quick thinker, and fiercely loyal to Josh. Besides, who else is willing to hang out with all those hookers, just so he can describe sin to Josh? Josh needs someone to help him learn to be the Messiah, but he also needs someone to help him be human. He needs a friend.

There are a lot of scenes I like. Pretty much all of them. But I went back and re-read this passage a few times. I don't remember it standing out the first time around, but something about this was so touching this time.
I don't know, having lived and died the life of a man, I can write about little-boy love, but remembering it now, it seems the cleanest pain I've know. Love without desire, or conditions, or limits - a pure and radiant glow in the heart that could make me giddy and sad and glorious all at once. Where does it go? Why, in all their experiments, did the Magi never try to capture that purity in a bottle? Perhaps they couldn't. Perhaps it is lost to us when we become sexual creatures, and no magic can bring it back. Perhaps I only remember it because I spent so long trying to understand the love that Joshua felt for everyone. (26)
I'm sorry this review is rambling and gushing. But I warned you when I started this it was going to be a mess. Cos I can't put into words everything I love about the book. I was actually afraid when I started re-reading this that I wasn't going to love it as much as I remembered. How could it live up to those expectations? What if I built it up too much? But it met those expectations. I loved it just as much this time around (and cried just as hard during the end) as I did the first time.

All the stars and moons and whatever other book rating measurement I could go with, even though I don't actually use them. But ALL OF THEM!

Title quote from page 17

Moore, Christopher. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Harper, 2002.