Vulcan’s Peak


January 30, 2008 9:26 pm

Since she sent it here, I didn’t get to show it off at home…but now that I’ve finished reading it, I would like to recommend to you my Christmas present from Poke: Lamb, by Christopher Moore. (So thank you, Poke — and happy birthday!)

Moore, for note, is also one of the three wonderful author people who answered all my silly questions about author blogs last semester.

Now, the most obvious comparison is to Monty Python’s Life of Brian, but I’m not going to make it. I’ve seen Life of Brian, but at the time, it was late at night, we were trying to keep the volume down, and consequently I couldn’t hear very well. This only added to a common Python problem, which I will call “Wait, are you still playing the same character?”

Lamb is good fun, though. It’s definitely R rated, but Moore’s smartest decision in his portrayal of Jesus (called Joshua here. Think of Avenue Q: “Remember guys, Jesus was…Jewish”) is in giving him a wisecracking sidekick. Levi, called Biff, is our narrator and is not a bad sort of person, just deeply flawed. With Biff around to hold grudges, curse like a sailor, and chase skirts all over Asia, Joshua can be good without being boringly perfect. Moore gives him enough faults to make him interesting and human, which, as I understand it, is part of the point of Jesus, anyway. Being human.

In that spirit, Moore sets about telling a story that doesn’t leave large chronological gaps as the gospels — what did happen in those thirty-odd years between his birth and his ministry. (I remember encountering this problem at my church-run preschool and being very puzzled about such an inexplicable omission.) Here, Biff and Joshua spend their “gap years” traversing Asia to seek out and study from the three wise men…who teach him all about Eastern religions as he gradually builds his own theology and develops a knack for parables. In an afterword, Moore acknowledges the chronological problems in having Joshua learn about Buddhism at a monastery in China, but claims that the alluring question, “What if Jesus knew kung fu?” was too good to pass up.

When the pair return to Galilee and begin to gather followers, the disciples are often something of a peanut gallery, but it’s in keeping with the tone of the story: light-hearted, but not entirely without substance. Bartholomew won’t bathe, Thomas has an imaginary twin, and Lazarus is in denial about his leprosy, but by the end, this sometimes slapstick tale manages, through Joshua’s unwavering determination and Biff’s frantic, worried scheming, to become truly touching.

One Response to “Lamb”

Poke wrote a comment on January 30, 2008

It is a surprisingly deep book – one of the best that I’ve read in a long, long time. I’m glad that you liked it. I thought that you might. =0)

Care to comment?