Sunday, November 16, 2008

THE FIRE GOSPEL by Michel Faber is reviewed by Adrian Michael Kelly in the Canadian Globe and Mail. Excerpt:
Less commonly, the fallible apostle achieves in spite of himself a kind of poetry. The Fire Gospel should succeed in transporting even hardened unbelievers to Golgotha and to the foot of a cross on which a man, hanging by his pinioned wrists, does not draw his last breath to say, "Into thy hands I commend myself," but rather, "Please, somebody, please finish me."

That moving moment in Malchus's testament may, for less venturesome readers, be undone by the scene that follows. The rapture of Malchus blends pornography, poetry and black humour, and I think it the novel's best moment. Faber can write with economy and grace.

Too often, however, he writes almost glibly. At its worst, The Fire Gospel is itself symptomatic of the desacralized, irony-laden age it sets out to lampoon. Most of the novel follows Theo through his harrowing promotional tour after he publishes the Gospel of Malchus, and most of the targets of Faber's satire - mass-market publishing, for example - are as easy and as tired as most of his jokes.
Background here.