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Only Begotten Daughter [Paperback]

James Morrow
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 12 2001 Harvest Book
Call it a miracle or an accident at the sperm bank. But Julie Katz, the half-sister of Jesus, has been born to a celibate father. Soon poor Julie is tempted by the Devil and challenged by neo-Christian zealots-and that’s just the beginning of her fantastic odyssey through Hell, a seceded New Jersey, and her own confused soul. Winner of a 1991 World Fantasy Award.

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Murray Katz, the celibate keeper of an abandoned lighthouse near Atlantic City, has been blessed with a daughter conceived of his own seed and a holy ovum. Like her half brother Jesus, Julie Katz can walk on water, heal the blind, and raise the dead. But being the Messiah isn't easy, and Julie, bewildered by her role in the divine scheme of things, is tempted by the Devil and challenged by neo- Christian zealots in this lively odyssey through Hell and New Jersey. Winner of the World Fantasy Award.

From Publishers Weekly

Morrow's flamboyant fantasy satire concerns the misadventures of a Jewish recluse in New Jersey who accidentally fathers God's daughter.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars For God so loved the world.... Nov. 21 2003
By Poppy
For God so loved the world that She gave her only begotten daughter.... to save us from ourselves
Only Begotten Daughter: Good book. Thought provoking. I'm not Christian, so I can approach Christ and Jehovah as I would approach any other mythology.
Let's play What If.....
What if... the "Second Coming" wasn't meant to be Jesus returning, but was meant to mean God's second child being born.
What if... everyone missed it because the child was female... and of course, the returning Son of God couldn't be female.
What if... her "purpose" in returning was to say "Hey, y'all need to get a life and stop worshiping the past. Live in today. My brother didn't give his life just so the bunch of you could refuse to acknowledge the world around you."
Water into wine? Forget it, it's been done. This chick changes gasoline into milk.
Morrow does an excellent job of describing what growing up must be like for the child of a major deity. Walk on water? Never, the neighbors might see. The love of an over-protective parent, wondering why God allows things to happen, why He never speaks to His own child... all normal occurences for God's daughter.
In some ways, Morrow is more realistic about his characters than the common belief about them is. He portrays Jesus, not sitting on a throne in the heaven to which he ascended, but offering water to the burning souls in hell. Helping the people after death that he cared for in life, according to the stories written down by his followers. Hell is run by bureaucrats (naturally... there's enough of them there), and Satan has been squeezed into a mere figurehead (much like the Queen of England). Oddly enough, he smells like oranges.
In other ways, he relies on stereotypes.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A second coming story without a purpose June 9 2002
Much like Neal Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens, Only Begotten Daughter left me nonplussed. The sense of humor (other than some assorted wordplay) didn't work for me, and what could have been a wry and subtle story about a divine young woman trying to find her purpose in life takes a horribly wrong turn when the devil himself shows up and proves to be working to use her for his own purposes. Morrow uses the set-up to poke some fun at Christianity, and is sometimes entertaining when he does so, but often the story is muddled.
The first third of the book is best, with child-of-god Julie Katz growing up in New Jersey with her Jewish father, lesbian almost-stepmother, and best friend. Thing go downhill in the middle third, when the adult Julie tries to figure out how to help people, and gets caught up in a web spun by Satan to create a new church. Julie makes some decisions which I just didn't buy about her character, and spends the last third of the book trying to make sense of what her earlier actions created: A fairly standard religious dystopia.
Though Morrow has clearly researched his source material deeply, he has trouble getting to the heart of his characters (Julie is, at best, something of a cipher), and his story isn't particularly effective. The strange "moral" of the story seems to be: If people are chastising you for not reaching your full potential, then lower your potential. Morrow doesn't seem to grasp the irony of this lesson, and the book ends up feeling profoundly unfulfilling.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Humanity of god, the Inhumanity of Man Sept. 26 2001
"The Universe was a PhD thesis that God was unable to successfully defend." (p. 212)
If God is the Eternal Light, then why do His children live in such darkness? James Morrow wrestles with the age-old challenge of theodicy--how can an all-Good and all-Powerful Deity allow a world with suffering? His vehicle in this excursion is God's daughter, a fertilized ovum found in a male sperm donation, and brought to term in an artificial uterus.
The world is indeed a dark place, and Julie Katz, (That's "Miss God" to you!) seems to find herself in some of the darkest corners. Why is God so distant? Why are miracles so useless?
Religious fanatics and Devout Believers in Scientism both show up in bad form in this book. If you're an existentialist with a dark sense of humor, you'll love reading this. If you're a devout, evangelical Christian, I suspect you won't have as much fun.
Morrow writes well, he dares to tread on the teats of many a sacred cow, and he does so exquisitely well. For those who find their understanding of God and religion offended, I offer you this quote from Julie Katz "If somebody kick your right buttock, turn the other cheek." (p. 260)
Although the characters are somewhat charicaturish, they each have their own depth, motivation, and occasionally act to surprise the reader. The leading characters are more archetypal than human, and that is part of the book's power.
Morrow gets five stars for a solid, well engineered plot. Five stars for characters who live beyond the pages of the books & occasionally drift into our dreams. Five more stars for telling it well, with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Courage. Morrow gets about five billion stars for courage--after all, he's insulted every fundamentalist this side of Venus.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to define.
It's a comedy. It's a drama. It's a social commentary on religion, sexuality and tabloid journalism. It's a heartwarming inspiration. It's a knee-slapping satire. Read more
Published on July 7 2003 by Tom Knapp
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully Irreverant
The power of this book comes in the decisions made by the author about how to express his "facts" and those things that had been changed over the course of history. Read more
Published on May 16 2002 by A. Schwab
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thinkin' Novel With Messiahs, Devils and Jersey
To attempt to describe the plot of this novel would take away from the first time readers experience, so I shall not do that. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2002 by Ryad "James"
5.0 out of 5 stars God for grown-ups
This is the most loving, incisive, courageous view of god I've encountered in 25 years of study in comparative religion and comparative mythology, as well as in 20 years as a... Read more
Published on Aug. 24 2001 by Thomas Stearns
5.0 out of 5 stars The Second Coming - with quite a twist
A story about the Second Coming - similarly to the First one, God's child arrives with a virgin birth to a Jew. Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2001 by E. Tobias
5.0 out of 5 stars As with all good literature...
This one will likely upset you, particularly if you are of a particularly fundamentalist persuasion... Read more
Published on Oct. 29 2000 by Zentao
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Satire
This was a refreshing change to the usual SF that deals with the messiah. I couldn't stop laughing about the absurdity of the story. Read more
Published on July 5 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Different
I really enjoyed this story, though I didn't think it was as blatantly humorous as I thought it would be. However it brings up some really good issues about faith. Read more
Published on March 31 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, hilarious and bitter: a wild, wild ride!
Morrow spins the yarn this time about Julie Katz, the product of a Holy Ovum and Murray Katz's - Jewish lighthouse keeper and bibliophile - divinely ordained semen. Read more
Published on Dec 14 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, hilarious and bitter: a wild, wild ride!
Morrow spins the yarn this time about Julie Katz, the product of a Holy Ovum and Murray Katz's - Jewish lighthouse keeper and bibliophile - divinely ordained semen. Read more
Published on Dec 14 1999
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