- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (February 19, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684803143
- ISBN-13: 978-0684803142
- Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.6 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,312,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Messiah: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 19, 1999
Waiting by her grandmother's deathbed, Felicity Odille Le Jeune makes one last request: "'I got a message for you to take to God!... Tell God,' she whispered, 'to grant me an orgasm.'"
Leave it to Andrei Codrescu to introduce a soupçon of sex into an already bizarre death scene featuring a televangelist named Jeremy "Elvis" Mullin, a lost lottery ticket, and Felicity herself, a New Orleans private detective whose "spiky short hair, baggy clothes, pierced nostril, and eight-hole black work boots were the manifestations of the 'be more manly every day' discipline she'd practiced for years. The goal of the regimen was to achieve maximum teenage boyishness by the time she turned thirty, and to maintain it indefinitely." It is the turn of the century, after all--December 1999, to be exact--and anything goes. Her grandmother's death has left Felicity alone in the world and with only one aim in mind: to take down the weaselly Mullin who had convinced Grandmère to hand over her two-million-dollar lottery ticket to his United Ministries.
Meanwhile, halfway around the world, Andrea Isbik, late of Sarajevo, has found refuge from the Serbian prison camps in Jerusalem. But Israel is just a stop along the road to the Big Easy for Andrea, and before long the two women have met and joined forces as Armageddon threatens. Codrescu has his tongue firmly in cheek as he piles on the millennial fears and cranks up the volume of nutty rhetoric in the final, pitched battle between Felicity's tribe of pierced and tattooed followers and the fanatical legions of the fundamentalist Reverend Mullin. Readers who prefer their apocalyptic panic leavened with a good dose of humor will find Messiah right up their alley. --Alix Wilber
From Publishers Weekly
Leave it to witty NPR commentator, poet, filmmaker (Road Scholar) and author Codrescu (The Blood Countess) to come up with an energetic if somewhat bloated novel about messianic fervor at the dawn of the next millennium. Felicity LeJeune, an aspiring New Orleans PI in her early 20s, waits at the deathbed of her grandmother. The dying woman, Felicity's last living relative, has long since fallen under the sway of the Rev. Jeremy "Elvis" Mullin, an evangelical preacher who collects souls as avidly as he has collected a personal fortune. With the help of the ultra-eccentric Major Notz, a family friend, Felicity decides to take down Mullin's empire?or at least blackmail him into returning the $2.5 million Mullin stole from Felicity. Halfway across the globe, meanwhile, the inhabitants of a Jerusalem convent are startled by the appearance of Andrea, an intensely sexual 16-year-old who may be a Bosnian war orphan or a Jew from Basque country. Whatever her origin, she proceeds to seduce first the convent's nuns, then a group of religious scholars living in the convent and, finally (after an appearance on Gal Gal Hamazal, the Israeli version of Wheel of Fortune), the entire Israeli populace. Through amazingly complex circumstances, Andrea relocates to New Orleans, where she fights for the fate of the postmillennial world alongside Felicity, Major Notz and the resurrected spirits of Nikola Tesla, Ovid and Mark Twain, among others, against Mullin and his hypnotized First Angels Choir. Codrescu's plot is beyond ludicrous, even for a tongue-in-cheek messianic thriller, but his writing is sprightly and his humor dead-on. Here, Codrescu gives the growing obsession with the year 2000 some of the joshing it deserves.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Novel premise, interesting beginning, confused and out of character middle, sappy sitcom-like ending. How about some character development? The best books chronicle how their main character(s) learn from the experiences in the book, how they change to overcome obstacles. In Messiah, we see Felicity develop from two-dimensional to, well, two dimensional. Andrea learns that she can cause group climaxes -- gee whiz! She's been through hell on earth, been raped, had her family slaughtered, lost her home, and the best insight we get from Codrescu is that she thinks she might have whored it for four years. Well, at least it was titilating!
The best thing about this book is that it lets (no, it _forces_) readers to draw their own conclusions about every aspect of the story. But then, what part does the author play? Perhaps a mere conduit -- a medium through which the story is told without commentary. But who will channel Hermes once Major Notz dumps Carbon?
What a great book this could have been!
One novel here might be called "The Shades" another "Felicity" Another "Gal Gal Hamazal" (which, by the way had me rolling with laughter).
It seems that Codrescu couldn't sustain the gargantuan project he began, although he did a slapdash job of making it seem his best. The black comedy is not lost on me, I merely wish that very cool characters like the Sarajevan orphan Andrea who herself seemed to be messianic enough on her own, and of that species of women one finds it hard enough to find let alone to depict: to Codrescu's credit he appeared to do this, her connubial and compassionate nature the most corporeal and transcendental as well as comic element of the book.
It's unfortunate that this satire careens at such breakneak manic Tom Robbinsesque speeds for at a slower pace or woven together (the sequences) with a stronger sensibility, Messi@h could have delivered the promised land it instead buffaloed it's way through. I suppose it's possible that Codrescu, himself an editor, felt in no need of an editor. I find that unfortunate, even the book jacket design was astonishing, and it was with great enjoyment that I breezed through nearly half the book having Messi@h spike a flat tire and some false notes straining after comedy, in particular with the obvious absurdities of "fundamentalist Christians" and the ribaldry of the "spirits" of our dead "great ones" (according to whom?) such as Aristotle coming back into bodies and incarnating after being disturbed during the cyberplay of tomboyish "Tank Girly" Felicity.
Andrei, please, take this back and edit it and give up the real Messi@h. I'd love to add it to my shelf of great great reads rather than consigning this novel to the stacks of benign and merely amusing books littering so many shelves.
We needed a little more of the adage "less is more." Don't mistake me, Codrescu is a great writer, but...but...
this could have been a miracle (sigh). We readers could have been satisfied but as it stands I was left longing. And for the record as it is possible to be too thin (and I would say too rich) it is also possible to be too clever.
Still, all in all a really good read.
Felicity starts out on a crusade to avenge herself upon the sleazy TV evangelist who ripped off her grandmother, but instead gets caught up in the apocalypse, which is staged to begin in Felicity's hometown of New Orleans. Along the way, we meet a bunch of religious scholars who enjoy telling stories about trickster figures, a stressed-out angel overwhelmed by divine bureaucracy and, last but not least, an amnesiac war orphan who keeps changing her biographical details.
For those familiar with Codrescu's dada preoccupations with language, history, and tricksters, _Messiah_ is as much of a crazy celebration as Mardi Gras in New Orleans; for those who are looking for a story that is out of the ordinary, look no further. However, those readers who prefer a sensible linear narrative may find this story a bit too far out to be satisfying.