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Bible Stories for Adults Paperback – February 28, 1996
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My personal favorite from this collection was "The Tower," in which God, fed up with human vanity, makes a personal appearance on Earth and creates a tower of Babel in reverse -- a world in which every human being understands one another implicitly, and no secret is left unrevealed. The impact to humanity is cataclysmic, and the resulting story is both humorous and unsettling.
Bible Stories for Adults also makes a great introduction to the reader starting out with James Morrow, as it is lighter in tone and easier to digest than his (equally excellent) novel-length works.
"Daughter Earth"--I've written about this story before, and it was a pleasure to reread it. It is one of my favorites--a strange metaphorical tale that has character, humor, and a biosphere. This is the kind of story I want to write when I grow up.
"Known But to God and Wilbur Hines"--Well researched tale of World War I and how war is hell. It is okay, but we have seen the sentiment elsewhere, and, while the details are sharp and fresh, the actual plot and manner are a tad warmed over.
"Bible Stories for Adults, No. 20: The Tower"--I like this one a lot better than "The Deluge," possibly because of the great humor inherent in a story narrated by God himself. Morrow has a real gift for merging humor into his satire, and this is a prime example. The story itself, with its criticism of Donald Trump and the hubris of the well-off, and its method of turning the tables on the idea of Babel, is just marvelous.
"Spelling God with the Wrong Blocks"--This is a fabulous story. I finished this and, as with "Daughter Earth," thought, "This is the kind of thing that I try to write. A story that transposes one set of beliefs into the reference frame of another set of beliefs to put serious question marks into both absolutes." In this one, natural selection is seen as the "correct" and holy interpretation of evolution, and when the science missionaries try to convince the planet of androids that instead they were actually the result of special creation, things don't turn out so well. God, what a funny, but not so funny, story. Check double plus, highly recommended, in my top 20.
"The Assemblage of Kristin"--Another great story, about an organ donor whose parts don't seem to want to give up life. Wonderful details, interesting characters, and a marvelous story structure. You know, if this book continues with stories like this, Morrow is going to move into real favorite status with me. Is this his only story collection (well, no, there was the Pulphouse Author's Choice one, but this is the only major publisher collection, I think)?
"Bible Stories for Adults, No. 31: The Covenant"--Like "Spelling God..." this drops us into a apotheosis wherein what we find normal is switched. Instead of having Moses' law for over 2,000 years, this world has had to go without it, instead preserving the shattered bits of clay from Mt. Sinai. The purpose of the computer they build is to put the tablets together again, to reveal the holy word. But is it worth it? Great social commentary. Question: What is the purpose of the numbers to these bible stores for adults? In this collection, there are only four, but the last is numbered 46. Are there 42 more that Morrow has not published?
"Abe Lincoln in McDonald's"--A little like the last story except the strange twist of having a very real Abe Lincoln in the future is almost too bizarre for words. The concept of slavery and society is always good for another story.
"The Confessions of Ebeneezer Scrooge"--Similar in style and substance to the Bible Stories, at least in that it picks grits with a story that ostensibly provides for modern morals. Morrow feels that greed shouldn't get off with just providing a turkey at Christmastime.
"Bible Stories for Adults, No. 46: The Soap Opera"--An examination of God's role in the life of Job. I'm reminded of XTC's "Dear God," and the line about how God has a lot of questions to answer about suffering. That's a great thing about the Bible Stories--the God of the Old Testament was so capricious that moving his actions into modern times make him look truly ridiculous. I was thinking that Morrow needs to tackle a New Testament story, but I guess that is what Only Begotten Daughter was about.
"Diary of a Mad Diety"--Great concept for a story--a man with the most extreme multiple personality disorder. And I liked several parts it this, but the latter third just did not seem. to match the inventiveness of the earlier parts.
"Arms and the Woman"--This is an example of the Iliad for Adults. What happens when Helen decides that she is not worth a war, a la Shaw. Nice idea, and the best part is the heroes over the truce table talking about how this is the war to make all war seem rational.
Morrow guts Western culture and preconceptions with gusto. But the real genius lies in the way he tempers his writing with humor, a great deal of it. The stories are nothing if not funny: the androids who are waiting for the Great Genital Coming, in which they will finally be differentiated into sexes; the other side of the Troy legend as related by a clever and aging Helen; Job's dung-heap, complete with a Zenith TV to pass the time.
I enjoyed all the stories, some more than others. There was a slight degree of inaccessibility to some of the stories which relied heavily on Biblical scriptures. If you do not know your Bible stories well, you may not get all the jokes. On the other hand, if you know the scriptures well enough to get all the jokes, you probably won't find them funny. Well worth a few bucks, especially since I believe that Morrow will be unable to resist satirizing money in his next collection.
I guess the majority of the stories vaguely qualify as science fiction, but each one has a profound message under its slight sci-fi trappings. Two definite stand-outs are "The Deluge", showing how evil remained in the world after the great flood (and making some nasty implications for the lineage of the human race), and "Arms and the Woman", a hilarious yet totally relevant retelling of the Trojan War from Helen's perspective. These two stories alone are worth the price of the book, but there's many more gems included. I'm still confused about the story concerning Job, but that's a minor detail; the others more than make up for it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
books like this should not sell!!!Read more
James Morrow is a wonderful writer who examines deep truths about religion and our culture.Read more