13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
What happens when God dies?
The sun still rises and sets, because God had already set the planets in motion. But what happens to us?
This is the theme behind the novel, God is Dead.
It begins with God, disguised as a wounded Dinka woman from Sudan, being killed by the Janjaweed in the Darfur desert. The observation that feral dogs feeding on her body now speak ancient languages give rise to the conclusion that God, indeed, has died.
What happens next? Author Ron Currie looks at humanity from a variety of perspectives, and the text almost reads as if the succeeding chapters were given to a variety of authors to experiment with this theme. But they were all written by Currie, of course. He writes well, with intensity and clarity.
But God remains dead. No Gandalf resurrection here.
This novel is worthy of more than one reading. I've only read it the once, but I "see" that I missed subtle messages here. Knowing where Currie takes the story, I know I can get more out of it the second time around. It is also easy to select one or two chapters to revisit.
And remember, this is a novel, not a "God is not Great" expose of religion. But you will feel sorry for God, who lives, and dies, experiencing the suffering in Darfur.
Who is that sitting next to you?
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2007
I don't think readers should over-examine this story collection/novel for its religious message, since the premise isn't theological -- it's just wildly imaginative. What if God manifested himself in Darfur in the body of a Dinka girl and died there? One answer is that the world, learning of God's death, spins out of control. But another is that God wasn't really doing anything to stop calamity in the first place, so what has changed? Our fate is in our own hands, just as it was before. You could make either case from these stories, if that's what you want to do, but in the meantime you could just enjoy these very well made fictions, from the title story, "God is Dead," in which Colin Powell visits the Sudan, to the last story, "Retreat," in which the outcome of a war between the armies of the Evolutionary Psychologists and the Postmodern Anthropologists is decided. The characters are quirky, but believable, trying to cope with situations that, only in the context of a world that has just learned of God's death, are wholly credible. This is a terrific debut and should find readers of all stripes.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2008
this book caught my eye on a recent trip to borders; and, after reading the back cover copy, i decided to pick it up. it's a quick read, and really intriguing. it's a collection of short stories, built around a common fictional thread. the stories aren't interconnected like the movies crash or babel, but are, rather, a series of isolated snapshots spinning out of the implications of the first story.
that first story is that god has temporarily incarnated in the body of a dinka woman in africa, and during a rebel raid, is killed. theological inacuracy aside, the fictional ruminations of a world without god (or, as the a-theistic author would likely say, a world that learns god is dead and ceases all belief in god) are fascinating. it's not a john lennon "imagine there's no heaven" pretty picture -- it's a bloomin' mess! ferel dogs eat a small bit of the woman's body, and begin speaking in aramaic, and -- pretty soon -- the word is out.
it's an extremely imaginative collection of implications, with large portions of the macro narrative told through implication and color commentary. for instance, one of the stories is the first-person narrative of a guy who works for the government agency that exists to get parents to stop worshiping their children by weekly sessions to strong-arm parents into seeing the averageness of their children. but the contextual bits let us in on the reality that, in the wake of any reason for church, and with nothing else to worship, parents around the world begin worshipping their own children.
the stories have a chronology to them, only in that each subsequent story takes place further in time from the death of god. i didn't enjoy the last one or two chapters as much as the first 4/5 of the book, as the story thread seemed to unwind a bit. and, of course, none of this lines up with anything that would remotely be considered biblical theology. but it's fiction - and it's an interesting exploration of a world without god (or, at least, without belief in god). as a christian reading the book, i found myself, of course, thinking the implications would be even more dramatic. but, still, the theologically impossible core concept was interesting to explore.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2007
Like nothing I've read since early Vonnegut. Wonderful writing: fresh, elegant, and completely unpretentious. Currie laces his stories with both unbearable sorrow and acid humor, and every character--from God to hapless functionaries to talking dogs--feel so plainly human. Each story can stand alone, but they gather immense power in ensemble. I especially loved the way the various plots snipe at current events (wars fought over arbitrary ideologies, for example)without becoming the least bit polemical. This was a bracing read, and I plan to read it again, with a fuller appreciation of the stories' interconnection and long, intelligent arc. Bravo and thanks. -- Monica Wood
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
An intelligent, darkly humorous, often bleak, but ultimately hopeful book Ron Currie, Jr.'s debut "God Is Dead" is not to be missed.
"I am not your God. Or if I am, I'm no God you can seek out for deliverance or explanation. I'm the kind of God who would eat you without compunction if I were hungry. You're as naked and alone in this world as you were before finding me. And so now the question becomes: Can you abide by this knowledge? Or will it destroy you, empty you out, make you a husk among husks?"
So sayeth the last remaining member of the feral dogs who feasted on God's corpse after he had come to Earth as a Dinka woman only to die at the hands of the Janjuweed.
For me the above quote sums up this brilliant book--a collection of stunning, provocative fiction all essentially asking the same question--what would happen if the world believed that God was dead? Would things fall apart? Would there be war? Would parents idolize their children? Would the dogs who ate God become false prophets? Would priests commit suicide? All ideas which Currie explores as he weaves together the godless world.
But then maybe things wouldn't be so bad. That maybe life as we know it will carry on after all--like it always had--God or no God. In "False Idols", we learn this to be one reality:
"And then a strange thing happened: nothing. Gradually we came to realize that the sun still rose in the morning and set at night, the tide still came in and went out on schedule, and we and everyone we knew (for the most part) were still alive and breathing. Talking heads and self-declared experts offered any number of theories, but the gist of it, intuited by most people, was this: God had created the universe and set it spinning, but it would continue chugging along despite the fact that he was no longer around to keep things tidy."
The potential message then becomes: whether God is alive or not, hope is precarious--short in quantity and easily ditched for the more readily available despair. You may find comfort in God, but this comfort can never be 100% safe or fulfilling, for how do you know he is who he says he is? How do you know he will not turn on you and eat you?
Basically: You don't know and you can't know. There is always a core choice to be made each day whether God lives or not and that choice is about getting out of bed and living a life in which the rising and setting of the sun is all you can count on is enough.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2007
I have no idea what theologians will think of this book, should they decide to read it. But, if it helps, this is not a book about religion. However, it is a book that's interested in religion...more specifically, it's interested in the people who find comfort in God and what their lives become when He is no longer around to hear their prayers.
And yet, it's so much more than that.
Currie's book is funny, smart, insightful and, above all, original. If this book has an agenda at all, it is more political than anything else...more specifically, it's about the people who find comfort in their government, even when it no longer listens to their prayers.
But, even still, this book is no more about politics than it is religion.
Really, this book is about people and the choices they make when faced with an absurd reality.
And aren't those the best books to read, anyhow?
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The events that unfold in the stories are surreal and extravagant, but seep into the reader's mind as truthful and mundane. Nothing seems outlandish. The believability of the characters overrides the unusual plot. Instead of questioning the believability of the plot, the reader wonders how these people will handle each situation they must face. This feature is not because of a reader's disposition, or the plot, but due solely on the writing.
The author's deep understanding of post-apocalyptic stories allows him to stretch the plotlines present in all other books and movies. The book is Mad Max with a brain. The inevitable questioning of one's survivability without society is presented through the mindset of a few frat dudes, the common "Hell Run" out of Mexico is told through the mind of a self-loathing soldier. In a tank. Filled with animals. It is enjoyable to see what comes out of a stagnate genre when a talented writer puts his mind to it.
The pacing, narration, and dialogue is enjoyable, leaving nothing unmemorable or throughout the book. Though each story is connected through the central factor of the book--the death of God--most of the stories have nothing to do with one another. Despite the separation, the stories push an unmentioned, larger plot and timeline. The stories do not create a world--they exist within it.
The stories in God is Dead are original, dark, and humorous. The plot is completely character driven as they try to cope with the ever disintegrating/reforming world. The reader is able to escape to an imaginary, though believable, reality that seems similar, though slightly off of our own. The strength of the stories is within the very realistic human element. God is Dead presents ordinary human thoughts and actions in extreme settings and situations, forcing the reader to view pieces of his or her life in a new light. Isn't that what literature is about?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2012
In God Is Dead, Currie tells a series of loosely related short stories that progress through a world where God has, while in human form, been killed by Janjaweed and consumed by a pack of feral dogs. One of the most remarkable achievements of the text is that, despite asserting an absurd basic assumption in a world modeled after our own, Currie creates a textured and engaging world that is ultimately beside the point of the poignant stories told.
Each story is thematically different from the last and address a wide breadth of topics. While God may be dead, people still deal with questions of post-high school uncertainty, parental unrest, familial obligations, and societal epistemologies. Each introspective topic addressed by each story is well paired with an overarching political criticism about how our world would function with absolute certainty that God once existed and is now dead.
The book has a wide range of appeal between its many stories and is a short read. It is absolutely worth picking up.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2007
This book was a one of the best books i have read in a long time. When i first picked the book up i was a bit on the apprehensive side i felt it might be a tad on the dark side. What i found was a fasinating tale that entertained without depressing. Ron Currie uses his talent to spin a satirical tale of a world without God. From the begining he had me. Striking was the chapter when God was dying as he could he all the people lamentating for him put he had no one himself to pray to in his death. Currie's use of irony throughout the book eg: worshipping of children, hit its mark, .... Great peace of work.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2007
GOD IS DEAD BY RON CURRIE JR.: Ron Currie Jr. is a new author to the world of publishing, having had stories published in Glimmer Train, The Sun, Other Voices, and Night Train; God is Dead is his first novel. It is a slim book, only 180 pages long, with an unusual layout: the pages are taller than a regular hardcover, but narrower. With a haunting image on the front of a dog looking in a cage where there is another dog lying on its side, apparently dead; the package of God is Dead immediately catches one's eye.
The title offers an obvious hint of what is to come in the novel. The book is split up into nine chapters that in some ways stand on their own as short stories. In the first God has taken the form of a young Dinka woman in the Sudan in the region of Darfur where she is injured and then killed. God is now dead and word begins to spread, soon enveloping the entire world in this doom. And so each story plays out a different part of the world, with distinctive characters, in different times.
The second story is about a young girl who is now done with high school and wishes to sever all ties and connections with it, go to college in South Carolina, and pretend her past never happened. The story ends with the poignant scene of a priest committing suicide by jumping off a bridge. It is as a small and seemingly insignificant viewpoint that really speaks for the emotions and sensations that the rest of the world is going through. Religion and faith now seem pointless and so the novel goes from there into different peoples lives: boys who can't take the anarchy anymore and begin a group suicide; adults who turn their beliefs and faiths to children who are pure and innocent and seen as brilliant; a war between the post-modern anthropologists and the environmental psychologists that involves the entire world.
Incredible story aside, Currie Jr. has a unique voice and a great talent for what he does, using a sharp and descriptive writing style that I will look forward to seeing again in his future novels. Ron Currie Jr. is a great new novelist to be watched, and God is Dead is a fantastic first novel that is more than an introduction to his imagination.
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