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God Knows Paperback – November 12, 1997

4.1 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joseph Heller was born in Brooklyn in 1923. In 1961, he published Catch-22, which became a bestseller and, in 1970, a film. He went on to write such novels as Good as Gold, God Knows, Picture This, Closing Time, and Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man. Heller died in 1999.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (November 12, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684841258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684841250
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #583,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If Heller had written Catch 22 with the same kind of easy style he exhibits in God Knows, then I might too be among those rabid Yosarian fans who claim it one of the best books in the damn universe. But it wasn't, and anyway, this review is about God Knows. There are many novels out there that make me smile and/or chuckle, but God Knows is one of the few that made me laugh out loud in several places. Read it if only for the passage with the lisps. You'll know what I mean when you get there. And I like the original treatment of Kind David, making him more human than divine. I normally avoid speculating on what the author was thinking or trying to do with a character, but given Heller's treatment of David's sense of time and the way David constantly claims credit for contemporary work, I kept thinking of him as a paranoid/neurotic in a mental ward somewhere imagining himself as David. Next time I'm at a seance I'll ask Heller if that was the case. But mental patient or not, the style still worked for me. Now some petty critiques: for such a build up regarding Solomon and his brother, the pay off was small to non-existent. The reader knows all along what happened with Solomon, and the expected fireworks never appeared. Fizzled even. And Heller (or a competent editor) could have or should have cut out about forty pages worth of redundancy. But there's so much entertainment here that, unless you're an easily offended pious type who can't take a little good natured blasphemy (stay away from that not helpful button, you) I enthusiastically recommend the book.
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Format: Paperback
Although I would not say that this book is entirely on the level of Heller's first three books (all masterpieces), as it does not, perhaps, resonate with the vibrancy and poignancy of everyday life as those works do, God Knows is nevertheless an entertaining, blasphemous, and laugh-out-loud hilarous Bibilical parody. Many an author has turned their skills to the task of setting a famous Bibilical character into the universe of modern literature and re-telling their story that way, but few have done it with the intelligence, wit, and sheer knowledge of Heller. This is the work of a man that, though perhaps a Jewish atheist (I'm not too sure of what Heller's religious views were), nevertheless clearly had a vast and perhaps encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible - or the Old Testament, at any rate. Here, we have the story of King David ("the best story in The Bible", as the narrarator himself repeatedly tells us), told through Heller's first-person satiric lens, casting the famous and mythical character straight into the pantheon of modern literature. Many may well consider this book blasphemous (although I am glad, and pleasantly surprised, indeed, to see in some of the other reviews here that members of the clergy have read and enjoyed it), it is all in good fun, and quite an entertaining read - as well as also hitting home at several points. Although there are several laugh-out-loud segments, Heller, beneath the farce, is also asking existential questions, as well as tackling some complex moral issues: God's apparent inclination towards punishing the innocent for the crimes of the guilty is given a good bit of attention here.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
In what can only be called the shear GENIUS of Joseph Heller, God Knows crosses the line between biblical irony and just plain FUN!! As a member of the clergy I found this book a refreshing and oftentimes TOO POIGNANT look at one of the greatest biblical heroes! Heller breathes life and REALITY into a character of mythical proportions. . . just in time to remind us that we are all HUMANS and a part of God's work. I am sorry for those Catch-22 fans that cannot let go of their IDOL WORSHIP for Joseph Heller. They are missing out on good writing and some downhome chuckles. . . GO FIGURE!!
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Format: Paperback
The David story is, arguably, the best-known story in the world. Tackling it is an act of supreme chutzpah. Joseph Heller, as always, fails to disappoint.

It's a crime and a sin that Heller never won the Pulitzer Prize. He should have, many times over, if for no other reason than his body of work clearly shows that humor can be just as effective a statement on the human condition as something that makes you want to slash your wrists. "God Knows" is a breathtaking take on the maddeningly complicated and all too human life of King David. Heller brings King David, in all his complexity, to life as no one else ever has. David, in his dotage, is here in all facets of his character--the adulterer, murderer, consummate politician, cranky and disappointed Jewish father, and one-time confidant of God.

The book is a jaw-dropping accomplishment on a hundred different levels. It's a classic work of humor, damn fine erotica, and where Heller got the audacity to interweave David's story from a perspective that uses time the way Escher used space (David kvetches about his statue by Michelangelo, continually rails against that second-rate hack William Shakespeare, sighs about there being no amniocentesis when Abigail was pregnant with Chileab, and refuses to buy Bathsheba a word processor), God knows.

But the real accomplishment of God Knows is that it illustrates just how timeless the really great stories are. David's story has as much to say about the human condition today as it did in 1000 B.C.--but it takes a genius to show us how. Fortunately, Heller was a genius.
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