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The Eternal Footman Hardcover – November 2, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st edition (November 2, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151293252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151293254
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,212,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Homo sapiens is an amazing animal.... Get God and Aristotle off its back, and miracles start becoming the norm," theorizes a hapless human in James Morrow's The Eternal Footman. Capping off the hilarious trilogy that began with Towing Jehovah and Blameless in Abaddon, Footman tells the story of what happens after God is undeniably dead. If His giant, deteriorating corpse in the first two novels wasn't enough, now His holy skull stares down from orbit like a melancholy moon, offering daily proof to the Western world that there's nobody left to pray to.

Cirrus clouds rimmed God's skull. He appeared to be wearing a white toupee. At least there weren't any ads today. Why the Vatican permitted the multinationals to aim their lasers at His brow was a mystery she couldn't fathom. Contemplating the Cranium Dei was depressing enough. You shouldn't have to read COKE IS IT in the bargain.

Depressing? That's not the half of it, as Judeo-Christians, sure at last that nothing but blackness awaits beyond death, become "Nietzsche-positive" and are stalked by the leering embodiments of personal apocalypse. Nora Burkhart's son Kevin is the first of millions to succumb to the awful symptoms of abulia, the fatal result of death-awareness. Western civilization crumbles while Nora struggles to take her comatose son to a legendary clinic in Mexico, where a strange, powerful man is rumored to have a cure. Meanwhile, a spiritual sculptor finds inspiration in a new pantheon after his masterpiece is mangled by the Vatican--but the new gods may require the ultimate sacrifice.

This is James Morrow, after all, and despair is always accompanied by enlightenment in his satirical morality tales. Taking cues from Dante, the legend of Gilgamesh, and an imagined debate between Erasmus and Martin Luther, Morrow finds redemption for humanity in the simplest acts of decency. Giant stone brains, God's evil intestines, and the still-guilty captain of the oil-spilling tanker Valparaiso make memorable appearances in The Eternal Footman, a worthy finish to Morrow's trilogy, and a fair but passionate defense of "the West's greatest gift to the world, the miraculous faculty of rational doubt." --Therese Littleton

From Publishers Weekly

The third installment in Morrow's Godhead Trilogy (after Blameless in Abaddon and Towing Jehovah) returns the reader to a world that is perpetual witness to God's death as His Delaware-sized skullAthe Cranium DeiAtakes up residence in the sky. Society is beset with an apocalyptic plague; its victims "riddled with Nihilism... and malignant despair" as they progress through the four fatal stages of the disease. Each sufferer meets a personal "leveler"Aa literate, ironic demon who heralds death and dwells in its host, materializing to impart jokes, warnings, inevitabilities. Morrow offers several heroes to bring hope to this grim world, including former schoolteacher Nora Burkhart, the recently widowed mother of Kevin. Struggling to give her cerebral son a good life, she is soon faced with the arrival of Kevin's leveler, a being called Quincy Azrael. Gerard Korty, meanwhile, is a renowned, reclusive sculptor who lives cloistered with his wife on the Indonesian coast and is commissioned by the Vatican to create God's reliquary. And Captain Anthony Van Horne is the infamous oil tanker captain who's given the task of transporting the Corpus Dei to Rome. These characters' paths converge in the jungles of Coatzacoalcos, site of a unique scientific-religious institution called Somatocism, which promises a cure for the plague. Breathlessly taking on a multitude of absurdities, musings and challenges, the author and his roaming imaginationAlike a plague victim and his levelerAare stationed everywhere along the dense, occasionally bloated story's path, equally ready to debunk and apotheosize. Reminiscent of Swift, Vonnegut and Ayn Rand, Morrow comes off here as ambitious, observant and earnest. A respected satirist and tirelessly resourceful appropriator of the conventions of SF, he may not secure legions of new followers with this novel, but his devotees won't be disappointed. Agent, Merrilee Heifetz.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Born in 1947, James Morrow has been writing fiction ever since, as a seven-year-old living in the Philadelphia suburbs, he dictated "The Story of the Dog Family" to his mother, who dutifully typed it up and bound the pages with yarn. This three-page, six-chapter fantasy is still in the author's private archives. Upon reaching adulthood, Morrow produced nine novels of speculative fiction, including the critically acclaimed Godhead Trilogy. He has won the World Fantasy Award (for Only Begotten Daughter and Towing Jehovah), the Nebula Award (for "Bible Stories for Adults, No. 17: The Deluge" and the novella City of Truth), and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award (for the novella Shambling Towards Hiroshima). A full-time fiction writer, Morrow makes his home in State College, Pennsylvania, with his wife, his son, an enigmatic sheepdog, and a loopy beagle.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By "turnerm" on November 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
James Morrow has a formidable reputation among fantasists. This is the man who's willing to take on the Old Testament (Bible Stories For Adults), the idea that lying is better than telling the truth (City of Truth), the atom bomb (This is the Way the World Ends), and even God Himself (Towing Jehovah and Blameless in Abaddon). It's my pleasure to report that James Morrow's deepseated grief and anger with how unpleasant people, and philosophy, can be to other people is still alive and well (unlike, of course, God, in this third book of a trilogy). There are a few familiar faces from Morrow's other work that turn up in this book- both friendly and not so friendly. The book is surprising- and at the risk of spoilering slightly, it's unlikely that you will anticipate the ending-- though it is impossible to imagine the book (and the trilogy) ending any other way. A truly wonderful book, from a truly questioning mind. Mark Twain would be proud.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on November 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the final work in Morrow's excellent trilogy on the "death" of God. Unlike the wacky and satirical "Towing Jehovah" and the extremely intellectual "Blameless in Abaddon," this third installment takes on the tones of Stephen King or Dean Koontz in a slightly creepy doomsday scenario. Here God's giant corpse from the previous books finally decomposes, with the skull ascending to the sky and orbiting the Earth, constantly reminding all of humanity that God is really gone. A psychosomatic plague of death wipes out most of the western world before people come to their senses and embrace a new age of rationalism. Once again this is all a vehicle for Morrow's highly structured Atheist theories. He's not an agnostic who believes nothing, but an intellectual who has arrived at Atheism through reason and research. This novel continues to represent Morrow's theology, which is surely thought provoking regardless of your religious persuasion. Unfortunately, this installment is the weakest of the trilogy, with Morrow's post-apocalyptic wasteland showing little imagination or creativity (see King's "The Stand" for a better example), followed by visions of a politically correct future world of enlightenment that are too rosy for belief. Also, the conclusion takes way too long wrapping up too many subplots. But still, Morrow's highly articulate and visionary trilogy will never cease to provide food for thought.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jason N. Mical on April 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
"The Eternal Footman," the final book in James Morrow's Jehovah Trilogy, serves as an interesting capstone to the series. It's much different from the other books; not so much about psychology or philosophy, it's more a re-telling of the tale outlined in The Book of Revelation, although with an obvious Morrow twist. As such, it might not appeal to the same kinds of readers that the other two books attracted, but "Footman" is in no way a lesser book because of it.
Years after the trial at The Hague, God's body disassembled itself piece by piece, His intestines swimming through the ocean like a gigantic snake and His skull sits in geosynchronous orbit over Times Square. The Vatican rents His skull for advertisers, so people are treated to Microsoft and Coca-Cola ads 24/7. But, it causes other problems as well...
In Nora's struggle and the development of the Temple in Mexico, Morrow reveals the ultimate philosophical lesson in his Jehovah Trilogy: that human value should not be created by external things, even God. It's what Nietzsche referred to as the "metaphysics of the hangman," and is echoed by those who claim that if there is no God, there is no point in living. That is what the plague victims seem to think, and that is what the Antichrist seeks to capitalize on. It is also what God wants humans to grow beyond.
It's the ultimate religious/existential lesson, one that Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and even Heidegger stressed in their works. It is also one of the most complex philosophical concepts to communicate, and Morrow manages to do it in one novel (actually, the setup was there through all the books).
Old characters are brought back, and new ones introduced. Like "Blameless," "Footman" is a walk in the forest to read, pleasant and dense without being oppressive.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "figurat" on December 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
THE ETERNAL FOOTMAN is possibly Jim Morrow's most scattershot and esoteric novel. Not really happy with only satirizing one topic, Morrow takes on everything from breakfast cereal to art critics in 400 pages, while managing to make some rather interesting observations and arguments about Mankind after religion. This book has recieved some of the most tepid reviews that Morrow has ever gotten (he usually gets enthusiastic praise) but I'll disagree. ALthough it is his least focused novel, it works as a stylistic choice rather than being distracting. At the same time, FOOTMAN is the only novel of Morrow's other than ONLY BEGOTTEN DAUGHTER (which remains his best) that really fuses compelling narrative with compelling philosophy. The other two volumes of his trilogy go too far on other sides. TOWING JEHOVA is too narrative driven, while BLAMELESS IN ABADDON is more stump speach sermon than novel. All of his works are strong satires that anyone could learn from, and THE ETERNAL FOOTMAN is one of his best. If you've never read Jim Morrow before, this is a pretty good introduction to him, although I would say read the other parts of the trilogy first. If you've read the trilogy, don't forget to check out ONLY BEGOTTEN DAUGHTER, probably his best book (and one hell of a wild ride).
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