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I, Lucifer: Finally, the Other Side of the Story Paperback – April 2, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Paradise Lost, Milton set out to "justifie the wayes of God to men." In this novel, British author Duncan (Hope; Love Remains) attempts to justify the ways of Satan to the hip. God gives his evil subaltern a month in a human body, with an option to own, thus permanently casting off his pain-racked cosmological being. The grim alternative for Lucifer is to subsist in eternal nothingness. The vacant body belongs to Declan Gunn, a writer on the brink of suicide. Lucifer narrates his romps through escort service dates, cocaine-laced nights and, mostly, the thrills of the wondrous human sensorium. Lucifer options his life story-from his starring role with Adam and Eve to his struggles with an autocratic God-to a film producer and torments Declan's lover, Viola, with the promise of a juicy part in the upcoming movie. But for all his jauntiness, Lucifer must unexpectedly wrestle with Gunn's conscience, including Gunn's memories of Penelope, his alternately loathed and longed-for ex. When Lucifer makes the disastrous decision to see Penelope and forgive her for dumping him, he confronts the goodness of mercy, a battle that leaves him sick with nausea and cognitive disorientation. Lucifer tosses wisecracks around as if they were hand grenades. On the wickedness of a rival of Gunn's, he quips, "There's no murder in him, and only a very predictable dribble of lust. His soul, and billions like it, provide the cosmos with its muzak." Alas, Lucifer's wit doesn't often rise to this sharply satiric level: it's more like a series of outtakes from Bedazzled. This is the archetypal promising novel-the author's talent with words eclipses the substance of his story.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Duncan's last novel, Hope (1998), was about pornography addiction. Since then, he's apparently found God, or rather, the Devil. His latest novel features the Prince of Darkness incarnate in the body of down-and-out writer Declan Gunn (anagram, anyone?), just about to slit his wrists. The apocalypse looms, and God has offered fallen angel Lucifer a second chance at redemption by enticing him with a month of earthly embodiment--an offer he can't refuse, given his taste for cocaine, sexual mischief, and other evil earthly pleasures. In between acts of debauchery, however, Lucifer/Gunn resurrects his literary career and revels childlike in the Earth's simple offerings: tastes, smells, sunsets, London. He muses theological, contemplating free will and the Fall and thinks about--just maybe--getting back on God's good side. Seduced by our diabolical narrator's wicked humor and Duncan's clever conceit, the novel's Christian redemption moral may catch some readers off guard (wasn't this book supposed to be about evil pleasures?), but they likely won't want to put it down. Duncan's witty and perverse, yet somehow life-affirming, Lucifer is powerful indeed. Brendan Driscoll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Edition edition (April 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802140149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802140142
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Edlund on May 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
Telling the basic plot of this story won't give anything away: God offers the Devil a deal: come to earth and take over the body of a poor soul who has just committed suicide, stay out of trouble for one month in this body, and gain re-entry into Heaven. The story is told as a confession by Lucifer himself.
From this promising premise, Glen Duncan takes the reader on a verbal rocket ride which ends...well, that doesn't matter, the ride is so enjoyable. Duncan is well-versed in literature going well beyond the obvious Blake (whom Lucifer dubs "Blakey") and Milton, and clearly has a deep knowledge of New York as well as London, modern as well as ancient history. At least in its references this book is surprisingly erudite.
The passages describing Lucifer's embodiment into a human being, and his evolving responses to possessing five senses, are realized fully enough to rate this book worth reading just for that vicarious experience. The author's main achievement, however, is his imagining a fully believable, fascinating, and yes, dammit, likeable Lucifer. At once biting, arch, and occasionally oddly touching, Duncan's Lucifer makes P.J. O'Rourke sound like Mister Rogers.
If you are easily offended by criticism of the Almighty, of organized religion, and just about everything else, this is not the book for you. If you like your humor without cream or sugar (as for example in the film "Dogma"), give this book a try.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By S. Davis on September 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
i can't believe all the bad reviews this book is getting in here! this turned out to be one of my favorite books of all time! it is funny through and through. (more than once i laughed out loud and had to explain myself to my husband.) the feeling i took away from this book is APPRECIATION. when lucifer gets to experience life, duncan is great at describing how he experiences the wonderful things we all take for granted every day. i will think twice now whenever i see a sunset or feel the wind on my face. the ideas about how it all began and heaven/hell are clever and thought provoking.

there is some british lingo, but not so much that i couldn't follow the story. and, i agree w/ one of the other reviewers about the name being annoying, but once you get over it (oh, within the first chapter, i would hope!) it's no big deal...there is so much else going on, it's the last thing to worry about.

I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! i highly recommend it!
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45 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Jose R. Perez on March 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
As much as I admire Glen Duncan's lyrical style and adjective-laden prose, "I, Lucifer" was a major disappointment reader. Duncan tells his devil-of-a-story in a manner that's so holier-than-thou his point gets watered down throughout by less-than-agreeable characters and a confounding points of view, plot elements that detract from some of the most magical prose I've ever read. It's that hyphenated-words-make-some-sort-of-sense-eventually writing that makes "I Lucifer" both a great fountain of literature AND a dumb exercise in futility.

It's hard to follow the author's stream of consciousness, which other writers have perfected through accessible references. Unlike Umberto Eco or John Irving - who can write chapter-long paragraphs that still make a point, with a beginning, a middle and an end - Duncan often fails to connect his dots. This in turn makes each page a somewhat plodding exercise that is not only NOT fun, but damages Duncan's superb use of language and obvious gift for creating nearly miraculous visions out of words.

It's not that I didn't enjoy this book....if I were in a devil-may-care mood (puns are unavoidable after wrapping up this tome)...I'd say that as a whole, "I Lucifer" succeeds by showcasing a literary dynamo with tremendous talent to spare. And yet, despite all its lofty images of heaven, hell, heck and history the novel failed to entertain me. The creeps notwithstanding, Declan Gunn - aka Lucifer the Devil - is so hugely unlikeable and despicable he's a caricature without the satire. He never succeeds as either villain or as hero. He gets under our skin as any good character does, but doesn't close the deal. In the end, he's just a poor slob who spews hate and venom and whose words, actions and deeds remain inhuman and narcissistic.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By C. Cyr on April 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
It was the concept of the book that caught me. After being overwhelmed with information about The Passion of the Christ, last month I began to counter program myself to the onslaught of Christian propaganda. I began to watch anything and everything that refused to take Religion(tm) seriously.
I started with Lamb by Christopher Moore. I watched Life of Brian thirty times. Then, by the grace of God (or the other guy) I found this book. How perfect could a tell-all memoir by the Prince of Darkness be? The answer is, "just about".
God makes Lucifer a deal. Spend a month in human form without commiting a mortal sin and receive the one thing that would tempt the devil - a free pass back into heaven with an entry level position in the angelic ranks. The book is a great big testament to the human experience and how we take everything we can for granted.
The writing style gets a little over-the-top at parts, but if you remind yourself that the narrator IS the Devil, you should be able to forgive it. It's a fun read and an intriguing look at the ways of God, the meaning of Evil and the concept of salvation in general.
Some people have suggested that Christians should stay away from this. While that's probably a given, I would like them to keep one thing in mind. THE NARRATOR IS THE DEVIL. If you feel that the book glorifies Satan, is full of lies and evil thoughts, you are probably right. What else do you expect from the Devil?
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