Quill & Quire
The title pretty much says it all. Jonathan Goldstein, broadcaster and author of the ReLit Award-winning Lenny Bruce Is Dead
, has gone beyond all previous translations of the Bible by taking all of the Good Book’s memorable parts and comedically rejigging them in the modern idiom. But he’s done so without fidelity to the source material: much of Goldstein’s book is apocryphal. The premise of Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible!
involves a series of Biblical tales told by a father to his son. The book’s aim, then, is to answer questions like: What was the personality of the serpent in the Garden of Eden? How did Noah treat his own family? What was the psychology of the populace during the construction of the Tower of Babel? The book’s breezy style is almost heretical compared to more formal Biblical cadence: “[Cain and Abel] treated making sacrifices the way one would take to being forced to talk to a crazy and infirm grandfather on his birthday.” This is often pretty funny, but it frequently also borders on the smart-assed, the overly clever and self-satisfied. Part of the book’s humour arises out of its irreverence, and there is a measure of shock that comes with lines like, “God would then kick [Abel] in the ass.” However, as a result of its own dumbing down of the Bible’s poetry, what tries to be a light brand of parody eventually becomes mere mockery. Moreover, Goldstein succumbs to clichéd language (“But the way God intended it did not pan out”), further weakening the parody through its own poor expression. And then there’s the utter inability of the author to make anything out of the Bible except silliness: all the moments of tragedy, of loss, are merely opportunities to make jokes. Small jokes.
About the Author
JONATHAN GOLDSTEIN’s writing has appeared in The Walrus, The New York Times, GQ, and in the National Post. He is a frequent contributor to PRI’s This American Life and The New York Times Magazine , and he is the author of the novels Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible! and Lenny Bruce Is Dead.