Friday, 7 December 2012

Pullman's strangest book?

I have read some of the books written by the famous Oxford atheist Philip Pullman before.  His dark materials trilogy was eponymously dark and yet quite compelling.

However, a recently friend lent me a copy of The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, which has been described as 'provokingly bold'.  (Shouldn't that be 'provocatively bold'?)

I read it. It didn't take long.  Its 245 pages were filled with white space and blank pages abound at the end of chapters.  The words between the white spaces were rather disappointing.

When I started reading I found the style surprising.  This is not a book for children, and yet it is written in a style that seems almost patronising to adults.  I assumed that it must improve as it went on.

Well - it didn't.  It was a ridiculous version of the story of the gospels (of the New Testament) but it seemed to include themes from the other non-canonical gospels.  When I say ridiculous, I mean that it was even more ridiculous than the official gospels!

It tells the story of Jesus and his twin brother, 'Christ'.  A mysterious stranger appears to Christ from time to time, and we are left wondering whether he was an angel or a demon.  However, by the end, Christ was pleased that he would not see the stranger again. 

There are some cynical (but probably justifiable) suggestions about how good stories develop and often get better in the telling.  But apart from that I'm at a loss to explain what the book was meant to achieve.  Maybe I will look for some other reviews and write more about it.

You might infer that it was not my favourite book.

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