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Live from Golgotha: The Gospel According to Gore Vidal Paperback – October 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (October 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140231196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140231199
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gore Vidal (1925–2012) was born Eugene Luther Vidal, later adopting the surname of his grandfather, Senator Thomas Gore, as his first name. Well known as a novelist, an essayist, a playwright, and a social and political commentator, he was the author of numerous novels—the first, Williwaw, written when he was twenty-one—as well as scripts for film, television and the stage, including the extremely successful The Best Man and Visit to a Small Planet. His other novels include Myra Breckenridge (1968), as well as thehistorical novels in the series Narratives of Empire, which includes Burr (1973), 1876 (1976), Lincoln (1984), Empire (1987), Hollywood (1990), and The Golden Age (2000). He won the National Book Award in 1993 for his book of essays, United States: Essays (19521992). 

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By R. McOuat on September 30, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is first and foremost a lampoon of Christianity, more specifically, the early years of the church. St. Timothy is a first hand observer St. Paul's effort to expand the market for Christianity. Other Vidal books have documented his cynicism of Christianity and the religious right, but "Live from Golgotha" clearly sets out to satire Christianity from its source: St. Paul.

St. Timothy (blue-eyed, hyacinth curls, glutton for the older powerful ladies) is the main narrator for the story. St. Paul is the great fund raiser and dogma developer for the Christian church. While fighting off St. Paul's homosexual advances, St. Timothy experiences the charismatic St. Paul and his miraculous stage show from up close. The business interests from the future, namely NBC and its parent company General Electric, plan to utilize their time travel technology to allow them to transport a television crew back to the time of the Crucifixion at Golgotha. With the intent of sweeping the TV ratings, studio executives are transported to 96 AD in the form of holograms. St. Timothy is their main contact; the executives spare no expense to help St. Timothy prepare his Gospel. Apparently, a mysterious hacker has accessed history at its core and is erasing all other historical documentations of Jesus and his early church. So, St. Timothy must negotiate with self-serving holograms from the future. At times, he will have two holograms of the same person in his room, sent back from the future, but from ten years apart, so their holograms will be of varying quality.

Gore Vidal takes a cynical and heretical view of religion and emphasizes Christianity's objectives as self-promotion in pursuit of the all mighty dollar. St. Paul is a charismatic marketer who rolls into a town with his dog-and-pony show.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Okla Elliott on September 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
Fans of Gore Vidal's novels Kalki, Myra Breckinridge, Myron, and The Smithsonian Institution will love Live From Golgotha. This novel is charged with the same biting critique of religion and religious institutions as we find in Kalki, and it incorporates the playfully sci-fi elements found in The Smithsonian Institution. In short, for Vidal fans, this novel is a must.
For those poor souls who have yet to discover Gore Vidal, this is a good introduction. Vidal writes what he calls "inventions" from time to time. These are his metafictional/experimental novels that break from his more famous, and more mainstream, historical novels such as Lincoln and The Golden Age (both of which are wonderful novels). In these inventions, Vidal allows himself to be more playful and unusual. Live From Golgotha reads like a collaborative effort between Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Pynchon. Despite the apt comparison to other pop-experimental novelists, Vidal writes originally and, I feel, quite a bit better than Vonnegut, Pynchon, T. C. Boyle, and Tom Robbins.
Perhaps it is most impressive that Vidal can write anything, including these "inventions," while the aforementioned authors are limited to that style. It is clear that Vidal knows exactly what he is doing, and that he does well.
In this case, he has chosen to tell an alternate story of the Gospels through the point of view of Saint Timothy. Timothy is being bombarded by characters from the future(s) who are trying to coerce him into re-writing scripture with their political and financial concerns in mind. What we end up with is a romp-in-the-sand of a novel that makes you laugh out loud at times and grimace with knowing pain at the cut-throat attitudes present in media, politics, and religion.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jon G. Jackson on June 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
Most of the other reviewers of this book seem to have approached it as if it was a semi-serious study in the line of "the quest for the historical Jesus." Have they really read it? It's an absurd science fiction comedy that is actually very, *very* funny! Humankind has discovered how to go back in time...albeit only semi-accurately. And so, the race is on! The goal...to send back to the future a LIVE broadcast of the events surrounding the crucifiction of Christ! It takes a while to get there, however...an outrageous romp that insults and mocks everyone and everything along the way, the sacred icons slamming one by two in the dust. Vidal's excellent writing is surpassed only by his vivid and unbridled imagination. (I laughed for days after the scene where Shirley MacClaine briefly appears, having channeled into the past by means of her own!) The story is told by Timothy---you know, the guy that...uh...cavorted with the apostle Paul)---who has his own unique set of priorities. The inevitable result? Well, we all know how sponsors of programs want to get their money's worth, yes? Let's just say that more than a few things manage to compromise themselves in the quest for corporate profit. I'd love to see it, but I doubt this one will ever make it to TV....
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "freethoughtmecca" on January 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Though a work of fiction, this is one of the funniest books I've ever read. I'd have to say that this book is much more of an insult to Christianity than the Satanic Verses was to Islam. Gore Vidal, a self-proclaimed "very strong Atheist," is a brilliant writer. I especially enjoyed his work Julian (JVLIAN), which was about Julian the Apostate, the only Roman emporer to leave Christianity in favor of the pre-Nicean pagan temples of Rome and their respective gods. Live from Golgotha, like Rushdie's "Satanic Verses," takes the basic characters and story line from a major religion, and alters it to make it comedy, making a sort of mockery of that respective faith.
The author makes fun of Jesus, his disciples, and the apostle Paul. Jesus is badly overweight; a big fatty with an eating disorder. Paul is a notorious homosexual, and possibley even a child molester, not to mention a former hitman for Mossad. The early disciples and church fathers are either greedy Jewish gangsters or bisexual Greek converts. Both Jesus and Paul, the founders of Christianity who never met each other, have a tendency to lie and rewrite Christian history in order to make themselves look good (as Jesus gets older, he keeps lying about his age; at 40 he tells people he's only 33).
The story is a wonderful read, and though Vidal makes a mockery of the story of Christianity, he is thoroughly familiar with its tenets. The story touches on the possible troubles between James' Jewish church, and Paul's gentile church, and how both had different interpretations of the message brought by the most subversive self-hating Jew of them all, Fat Jesus.
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