Saturday, 3 November 2007

Genesis: 26 - 50

I don’t know why I’m doing this to myself. My copy of the bible is 2000 pages long, and I’m at page 30. It’s really small print.

Ah well, here goes.

It’s at least a 5 minute read, so maybe go make a cuppa first.

Note: ‘PQT’ is Perseus Q Translation of the Bible.

Chapter 26

There is a famine, and Isaac, being blessed of the Lord, gets a tip from the Lord on where to go for some decent water supplies. I ask myself, why didn’t God just send down some rain? Playing favourites again. Mongrel.

So Isaac takes his family (his wife Rebekah and his two kids, Esau the venison-eater and Jacob the tent-dwelling slacker) to Gerar.

Isaac does the old “she’s not my wife she’s my sister” trick, which he must have learnt from his father Abraham. This is the third time this ‘sting’ has been pulled in Genesis. So of course, everyone in Gerar tries to have sex with Rebekah and then they all get damned because they were trying to have sex with someone’s wife. Even though they were told it was his sister.

Oh fucking hell, I don’t get it. This book is hopeless.

Anyway, Isaac gets very rich, because everywhere he goes God gives him water so he can feed his cattle and grow his crops. This naturally pisses off all the locals who have to, you know, actually do some work, and struggle. This must be where Amway get the idea that if you are a good Christian then God can make you rich.

Chapter 27

When we left Chapter 25, Jacob was being a cunt to Esau. This continues. Isaac is old and dying and he asks Esau to bring him some venison with savoury topping. Esau is promised a blessing if he does this. But, Rebekah overhears the promise, so she runs to her favourite son, mummy’s boy Jacob, and says (PQT), “Quick, go get some goat, I’ll make it savoury, and the old bat will never know the difference. That way you’ll get the blessing because he’ll think you’re Esau!”

Jacob replies:

“Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man”
– Genesis 27: 11

Rebekah concocts a plan to put him in a hairy costume.

So Jacob goes and kills a goat, Rebekah turns it into a savoury dish, puts some fake hair on Jacob and sends him in to the dying Isaac. It’s like something out of The Three Stooges.

Isaac, blind, partially deaf, decayed taste buds that can’t taste the difference between goat and venison and with a terrible sense of touch, falls for the con. Jacob gets the blessing for all eternity, all the family riches and promises of everlasting greatness.

Poor Esau, who was still out gathering venison, gets nothing.

After Isaac finds out he was conned he’s a bit pissed off, but he at least promises Esau that
”...thy dwelling will be the fatness of the Earth, and the dew of the heaven above.”
- Genesis 27: 39

I would have preferred the everlasting greatness myself.

Esau plots to kill Jacob in revenge, so Jacob plots to clear out of town.

Chapter 28

Isaac, who is still not dead, says to Jacob (PQT), “Get the fuck out of here you cunt of a son. You have the blessing of all eternity by tricking me, so at least grant me this final wish: Don’t marry a Canaanite.”

You may recall Canaanites are the unlucky ones related to Ham, who accidentally saw Noah naked. These people are otherwise known to fundamentalist Baptists as ‘the blacks’.

Esau overhears, and still being a good son, goes and marries some chick called Mahalath, who is his cousin anyway. Incest? Yep, but at least she isn’t a filthy Canaanite.

Jacob goes wandering looking for a wife. He sleeps on the rocks. God comes to him in a dream and promises him, you know, fucking everything, including,
“ thy seed shall all the families of the Earth be blessed”
- Genesis 28:14.

Jacob gets that promise from God because a) he is the one Isaac (accidentally) blessed, and b) God is a racist. But I ask: Why doesn’t God over-rule Jacob’s savoury meat deception? Because he’s a tyrant, is my answer.

Jacob promises to build a temple at the place God came to him in the dream, and give a tenth of everything he earns to God.

God takes commissions, you see.

Chapter 29

Brace yourself. Forget everything you’ve ever heard about the church and about ‘good Christians’ and the bible, and let me explain Chapter 29 of Genesis to you. I’ll put the whole thing in my words, but let me assure you, I’ll stick to the storyline like chewy on a thong.

Jacob goes looking for a wife. He comes across a chick called Rachel, who is his cousin, and pretty hot. They snog. He moves in with her family for a month and works for Rachel’s dad – his uncle. After a month the uncle says, (PQT) “Well, you’ve worked for me for a month and you haven’t asked for anything in return. Is there any payment you want?”

Jacob says, (PQT) “Yeah, I want to marry your daughter.”

The uncle says, (PQT) “Leah? Righto then.”

Jacob says, (PQT)“No, not Leah. She’s ugly. Rachel, the better looking one. The younger one.”

Although the Uncle would prefer to marry off the older, ugly one, he agrees to let Jacob marry Rachel, but they come to an agreement whereby Jacob will work for the Uncle for seven years without pay, and only after that will he marry Rachel.
Seven years pass. He finally gets to marry Rachel. A big wedding piss-up is organised. And at the moment that the marriage is about to take place, the Uncle does a switcheroo and hands over Leah, the ugly one.

Jacob says, (PQT) “Oi! Wrong one! I wanted the hot one.”

(PQT) “No deal,” says the uncle, “In these parts, the older one has to marry first. I tell you what though. If you marry the ugly one and fuck her, then you can fuck Rachel as well anyway, and then if you work for me for another seven years for no pay, you can marry Rachel.”

(PQT) “Righto,” says Jacob.

So he marries the ugly one, fucks her for a week, then works another seven years during which time he gets to fuck Rachel and finally marry her.

So now he’s got two wives. And they’re sisters. And both are his cousins.

The Bible: Incest porn, disguised.

Even though he hates Leah, it turns out he has to keep fucking her because she can have kids but Rachel is ‘barren’.

Leah has four kids to Jacob, but Rachel gets his love.

I know I’m jumping ahead, but I can now understand why God sent Jesus down to the world. He was probably up there thinking, “I’m not very good at this. Better send someone down to clean up the mess.”

A Seventh Day Adventist Pastor I recently came across explained away all the sexual misdemeanours by claiming that because the population of Earth was so small, shagging one's own family, maids and concubines was appropriate in those days. What he fails to acknowledge is that we evolved. You see, his argument only holds true if we assume Creation is a scientific fact. Which it isn’t. It’s a myth. A nice one, but a myth nonetheless. By 2000BC, the gene pool of the human species was wide and varied and there was no reason to fuck one’s cousins, maids and concubines other than for the pursuit of sexual pleasure.

Chapter 30

Gold. Rachel gets pissed off because she can’t have babies, so she tells Jacob to fuck her maid and get her pregnant so she can have the baby. Just like Grandpa did with his maid.

Rachel’s exact words were,
“Give me children, or else I will die.”
- Genesis 30: 1.

The poor maid gets shagged, and has to hand the kid over. His name is Dan.

The surrogate mother thing works so well, it is repeated. The maid has a second child.

So now the kid score is: Rachel 2 (by surrogate), Leah 4 (by conception). Rachel must struggle with biology and mathematics, because she declares,
“With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed”
- Genesis 30: 8

Rachel may be the hot one, but she’s obviously the stupid one.

Then it just gets stupider, because Leah panics that Rachel is catching up on the amount of kids, so she gets Jacob to fuck her maid and have children.

Jacob must be having a ball. He gets to fuck the sisters, and their maids. Hot.

Typing one0handed.

And now here comes my favourite line of Genesis so far... Reuben, who is one of Leah’s kids goes out and collects some mandrakes. Rachel sees him and says, (PQT) “Hey, give me your mandrakes.” Leah finds out, and confronts Rachel.

“Is it a small matter that thou has taken my husband? And wouldst thou take away my son’s mandrakes as well?”
- Genesis 30: 15

The reply is pretty good. Rachel says (PQT), “Well, if I get the mandrakes, you can fuck Jacob tonight. Deal?”

The deal is made. Jacob comes home from work and Leah says, (PQT) “You have to fuck me tonight because Rachel got Reuben’s mandrakes”

(PQT) “Righto,” says Jacob. They fuck. She gets pregnant. Natural baby number 5 on the way for Leah.

But then, just like in the days of Abraham and Sarah, God takes pity on Rachel and fixes things so that she can have babies herself. God: The first gynaecologist.

She has a kid and calls him Joseph, later to be portrayed with much artistry by Jason Donovan on the West End in an Andrew Lloyd-Weber musical. Is there a sarcasm symbol I can use?

Jacob finally quits his job and takes his wives and kids away. As a departing gift, the Uncle lets Jacob take the ring-streaked goats and he gets to keep the spotted ones.

Jacob moves just down the road and starts his own house with,
“...much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.”
- Genesis 30:43

Chapter 31

Trouble. Turns out Jacob’s cattle is healthier than his Uncle’s. The people talk. (PQT) “He took the good ones when he left,” they say, even though it’s only because he looks after them better. And besides, the Uncle has since become a cantankerous bastard and a thief.

God intervenes and tells Jacob to move far away.

He takes his wives etc. on camels and heads back to Canaan, where he grew up ‘dwelling in tents’.

But the Uncle finds out and decides to chase him. He catches up to the train at Mount Gilead.

He confronts Jacob and says, (PQT) “Oi! Why did you piss off with my daughters, all the maids, all your cattle? You cunt! I was a good uncle! / father in-law. And by the way, one of you stole all my images”. By ‘images’ I think he means family photos, except they were probably paintings because cameras weren’t invented yet.

Turns out he had a point. Rachel had stolen the pictures, but she hides them from her father.

But, they finally agree to part ways, and they build a little mound and agree to never cross it on the condition that Jacob is nice to the Uncle’s daughters. A happy ending for once.

Chapter 32

Jacob returns to his homeland but he’s shitting himself because his brother Esau is there. You may recall, Esau had vowed to kill Jacob for stealing his birthright and his blessing for all eternity.

He sends a messenger forward to tell Esau that he’s coming back.

The messenger comes back and says (PQT), “I saw Esau and told him you were on your way. He’s waiting for you, with 400 men.”

Jacob panics and asks God to protect him. Coward.

Jacob decides to buy off Esau’s anger, so sends him a gift of heaps of cattle.

Jacob goes to sleep, but in the middle of the night somebody starts a fight with him.

They punch the shit out of each other for hours, in the dark. After a few hours of argey-bargey, Jacob has to give up because his thigh comes out of its joint. Turns out it was God just coming down for a bit of Fight Club action.

How’s that, hey? You’re sound asleep in the middle of the night, someone attacks you in the dark, you’re forced into fisticuffs and wrestling and when the lights come up, turns out it’s the Creator of life and the universe punching the shit out of you.

God changes Jacob’s name to ‘Israel’ and forbids him and his descendants from eating the sinew from the hollow of a thigh (must be some kosher thing), in honour of their punch up in the dark.

Chapter 33

Jacob, after a night of ju-jitsu with God, gets up to discover Esau is bearing down upon him with 400 men. But it turns out he was just pleased to see him. The bribe of cattle worked. They reconcile their differences, and are loving brothers once again.

Chapter 34

One of Jacob and Leah’s daughters, Dinah, fucks a bloke called Sechem.

Let me pause a sec. This chapter is sick (not ‘sick’ as in ‘gnarly’, ‘sick’ as in ‘totally fucked’) so I did some research. Some claim that Dinah is abducted and raped by Sechem. In fact, it seems to be the accepted story, but here’s how the KJV has it:

“...saw her, and lay with her, and defiled her. And his soul cleaved unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel...”
- Genesis 34: 2-3

I argue the accepted interpretation. There is no evidence that she was unwilling to fuck him. In other parts of the Bible, husbands ‘lay with’ wives and there’s no mention of impropriety.

So, as far as I’m concerned, Dinah has walked into town and got a root, like normal people.

Anyway, so Dinah fucks Sechem.

Everyone’s a bit agro about it because nobody in the family likes this Sechem fellow. Sechem wants to marry Dinah, and the two families agree that the marriage can only take place if all of Sechem’s family, and indeed, everybody from his home town go and get themselves circumcised.

So, Sechem and his father get circumcised, and organise for every male in the city to also be circumcised. So far so good, but three days later, two sons of Jacob (Simeon and Levi) go into the city and kill every man there... on the grounds that they had defiled their sister Dinah. They also steal all the babies from the city and imprison all the women.

Jacob’s not happy about his sons committing mass slaughter, and worries about people taking revenge. He tells his boys off, saying (PQT) “You idiots. Now all the Canaanites and Perizzites will come and kill us!” but the murderous boys’ opinion is unchanged, as they say,
“Should he deal with our sister as with a harlot?”
- Genesis 34: 31

The moral of this chapter is that if anybody has sex with your sister that you don’t like, go on a murderous rampage; kill the bloke, his father and every single man from his home town. But wait until they are circumcised. Oh, and don’t forget to steal the babies and imprison the women.

Chapter 35

God helps the family escape. God’s morality is at best questionable, at worst, absent.

Jacob (hereinafter sometimes also known as Israel) and his family build a temple, as instructed by God.

Rachel has another child (Benjamin) but she dies during childbirth.

One of the sons, Reuben, fuck’s Israel’s concubine. Israel listens to them fucking.

Isaac dies. I kind of forgot about him. I thought he died ages ago.

Chapter 36

Briefly to Esau, Jacob’s hairy brother that ate venison.

Esau has a few wives, and they all have kids. He’s wealthy, and he chooses to live a fair distance from his wealthy brother Jacob, just so there’s no competing.

Chapter 37

Joseph is Jacob’s favourite son. They all have favourites in this book. Anyway, Jacob makes him a coat of many colours, and Joseph likes it. Personally, I prefer single-colour coats, but nobody in the Bible is known for their fashion mien, except maybe Jezebel.

Because Joseph is the favoured son everyone else in the clan hates him. Especially when he tells them of a dream he had where he ruled over them all. His hubris makes them despise him even more. His dreams get even crazier and more megalomaniacal (I spelt that word correctly first time, in a rush, figuring spellchecker would work it out for me. It was a fluke.)
“Behold, I have dreamed a dream more: and behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me”
- Genesis 37:9.

His Dad, Jacob, pulls him aside and cautions him about his stupid dreams. But too late, all his siblings decide to split. They run away to a town called Dothan, but Joseph, who was ordered by Jacob to go and look for them and to be a bit more humble, traces them to this Dothan joint. The siblings see him coming and they say:

“’Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, “Some evil beast hath devoured him”: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”
- Genesis 37: 19-20

One of the brothers, Reuben, comes up with the plan of merely throwing him into a pit but not killing him. Nice brother.

The others steal his multi-coloured coat, and throw him into a dry pit. They eat bread. Then they see some travelling merchants on their way to Egypt and decide to get Joseph out of the pit and sell him to the merchants. They get 20 pieces of silver for him. Not a bad price.

They all kill a goat, and dip Joseph’s coat in the blood. They take the bloodied coat to their Dad, Jacob, and he falls for the con, believing that his favourite son Joseph was killed by an evil beast. He mourns.

But little does he know, Joseph is really alive and well in Egypt, having being sold to an officer of the Pharoah.

Stay tuned for next week’s exciting instalment of Genesis, The Ancient Melodrama.

Chapter 38

Another of the sons of Jacob, Judah, fucks a chick called Shuah, a dirty Canaanite, and she has a son to him which they name Er. What a fucking awful name. “Hi, I’m Er.” They have some more sons. They all grow up.

“...Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the eyes of the LORD, and the LORD slew him.”
- Genesis 38:7

Then the Lord says to Er’s brother Onan, (PQT) “I killed your brother Er because I didn’t like him. So you can fuck his wife Tamar, now.”

Onan fucks his dead brother’s wife, Tamar, but when he ejaculates he lets the spoof spill to the ground instead of inside her.

God didn’t like Onan letting the sperm fall, so he kills him.

Remember that boys: If instead of coming inside your lover, you come on the floor, God may slay you. Maybe if you come in her mouth it’ll be okay in the eyes of the Lord. I must ask a Rabbi.

Oh fuck. This is really a bizarre fucking book. I had to take a walk after reading Genesis 38: 1-11. Next time a Mormon or a JW comes a-knockin’ at your door and asks you about God and the Bible, say to them, “Yes, I am very interested in what you have to say. Tell me about Genesis 38.”

Judah says to Tamar, (PQT) “Ah, stay at my place and wait for the younger brother to be old enough to marry you. I’m worried God’s going to kill him as well.”

A few years later, Tamar goes wandering to look for Judah who is at work. She goes in disguise, dressed as a temple prostitute. She’s hot and horny, wanting to fuck Shelah, the younger brother, but Judah hasn’t approved of it yet. She finds Judah up in the hills. Judah sees her, thinks she’s a real harlot, and fucks her in return for some presents.

So now this Tamar chick has fucked Er the wicked, his brother Onan the sperm-dropper, and their father Judah, and plans to marry Shelah, the youngest son.

She falls pregnant to Judah.

Judah hears that his daughter-in-law has been dressing like a whore and is pregnant. He decides to burn her. But then, he discovers that it was he who had fucked her and got her up the duff. He lets her live because he realises he should have just given her to his young son Shelah in the first place, and that she was more noble than he was.

She has twins. A happy ending for Judah, who was the ring-leader in throwing Joseph into a pit and dipping his coat into goat’s blood, and then selling him to travelling merchants. What a terrific fella he was, even if he did marry a black woman, which is despised by the Lord.

Chapter 39

Back to Joseph, who is in the employ of an officer of the Pharaoh in Egypt, after he was sold-off by his own brothers and sisters.

The LORD likes Joseph.

Of course he does.

The officer likes him too, because he can see that Joseph is well-loved by God, and because of that, God looks after his house and the field. Win/win.

But guess who else likes Joseph? The officer’s wife. (PQT) “Fuck me,” she says. He says no, on the grounds that her husband, his boss, has been very kind. But she persists day after day, trying to get him into the sack. He still says no.

So she falsely accuses him of rape. Her husband puts him in jail.

In jail, the LORD makes it easy for him, and He gets all the prisoners to be Joseph’s servants.

Chapter 40

A butler and a baker who previously worked for the Pharaoh get chucked in jail. Joseph makes friends with them.

The butler has a strange dream involving grape vines and handing the Pharaoh a cup of wine. Joseph reckons the dream means he’ll get his job back. He asks the Butler to put in a good word with the Pharaoh if he he’s right.

The baker has a dream involving baskets of bread on his head that birds eat from,
and Joseph reckons it’s because the Pharaoh will have him beheaded.

Joseph was right on both accounts. But, the cunt of a butler forgets all about Joseph, never mentions him to the Pharaoh, and so Joseph languishes in jail.

Chapter 41

Two years pass. The Pharaoh has a weird dream about kine (cows, oxes). Then he has another dream about corn.

He asks all the wise men in the area, but nobody can interpret his weird dreams.
The butler says, (PQT), “Oh, there’s this Hebrew I met in jail that’s pretty good at this shit.”

The Pharaoh calls Joseph in. Joseph interprets the dream as meaning that there will be seven good years in the land, followed by seven years of famine, and so he should spend the next seven years stocking up on food.

The Pharaoh likes Joseph, and makes him a ruler of Egypt, to be outranked only by the Pharaoh himself. He even gives him some bling, and scores him a hot chick to marry.

Joseph travels Egypt, warning everyone to conserve their food in preparation for the famine. Sort of like an ancient-era Al Gore, or David Suzuki.

Seven years later, the famine hits, and everyone in Egypt is cool because they stored food. The rest of the world starves and comes to Egypt begging for food. Egyptians charge top dollar for the food, and thus become quite rich, all thanks to Joseph.

Chapter 42

So of course, back in Israel’s lands, they’re all starving, so Jacob says to his kids,
“...I have heard that there is corn in Egypt; get you down thither, and buy for us from thence, that we may live, and not die.”
- Genesis 42:2

Ah, it’s like a good old fashioned soap plot. They are going to get to Egypt to discover their brother, who they left for dead all those years ago, and who they tricked their own father into believing was dead, is in fact now a ruler of Egypt. And who says the Bible is just great tales? This plot is so believable! It has to be true, just like creation.

Sorry for my sarcasm. As an aside though, I can’t help but admire the Bible for its clever plot twists on the grounds that to this day these sorts of plot twists are used in movies and TV Shows, and yet, Genesis was written 2,600 years ago. Just goes to show how 'stories' are timeless. But really, Word of God my anus. It’s just bloody good yarns, so can’t we just appreciate them for what they are rather than trying to claim they are historical facts, or the word of an actual God?

So the sons of Israel go to Egypt to buy some corn. Joseph is the boss of the sales. They bow to him, not recognising him to be their brother. He recognised them though. He asks if they are spies (reminds me of Apocalypse Now, “Are you an assassin?”). They deny they are spies, they are just sons of a great man come to buy corn.

All sorts of weird bribes and riddles ensue, and it’s all a bit boring really.

Chapter 43

They have to go and buy more corn. More haggling and jejune riddles. Joseph still doesn’t reveal himself, but he cries a lot. He invites them to dinner. They all get drunk. Benjamin, the youngest, is a messy eater. Yes, that is mentioned.

Chapter 44

Joseph tricks them into letting him keep Benjamin as a servant. Judah begs him to change his mind, because old Jacob would simply die if he never saw Benjamin again. It was bad enough when Joseph went missing, but if his next favourite Benjamin went missing he’d surely die.

Chapter 45

(PQT) “Ha! I am Joseph! Yes, it was me all along! Bwahahahaha! Don’t feel bad about selling me to some dirty merchants after chucking me in a pit. Look how rich I’ve become! Must’ve been God’s master plan to make me rich and be able to look after you all in the time of famine. Say, why don’t you bring Dad and all the girls down here to Egypt. I’m fucking loaded, it’ll all be cool.”

Chapter 46

God tells Jacob that all will be cool if he packs up and heads to Egypt. All 66 members of the extended family move. Jacob and Joseph have a teary reunion, and Jacob indicates that he will die happy now.

Chapter 47

The Pharaoh welcomes all 66 of them and says it’s okay to spread their cattle about anywhere they want, in return for looking after the Pharaoh’s cattle as well. Deal made.

They get given all the best land.

Then Joseph turns into a capitalist cunt. Because everybody is starving and can’t afford to buy food, but the coffers of the Pharaoh are well-stocked, he buys all the cattle off the people, and their land. This then gives them money, which they use to buy food... from the Pharaoh. So now the Pharaoh owns the whole country, and is just as rich as he ever was. Joseph master-minded this piece of cuntery. But then, he turns a bit nice, and hands everybody seeds, and says, (PQT) “Here, have some seeds. Go plant them. You can keep four-fifths of the produce, and you can plant them anywhere you want on the Pharaoh’s land, but give a fifth to the Pharaoh. Now fuck off.”

Chapter 48

Jacob’s last blessing is to Joseph’s twin boys. He also gives the younger one a better blessing, even though Joseph reckons the older one, by rights, should get the best blessing. I guess that’s because Jacob himself was a younger twin and ended up getting all the good blessings. Cunt.

Chapter 49

Jacob’s dying words / blessings: (PQT) Reuben, you’re a cunt because you shagged my concubine. You’ll never amount to anything. Simeon and Levi (the two mass murderers) youse two can get fucked. Judah, you’re okay, so you can have white teeth. Zevelun, you can go live by the sea in peace. Issachar, you’re okay. Whatever. Dan, you can be some sort of crooked judge. Gad, you’ll die in war, but you’ll be the last to die, so that’s something I suppose. Asher, you can have heaps of food. Naphtali, you can be a good talker. Joseph, you’re the best by far and you get whatever you want because you’re fantastic. Benjamin, you’re my second favourite son, so you can be a good hunter.”

They then become the 12 tribes of Israel.

The daughters aren’t mentioned.

Chapter 50

Jacob is buried in Jordan.

Years later, Joseph dies and is buried in Egypt.

The End


Still no mention of an after-life. Heaven is for God and the angels. We return to dust.

They are great stories, but blow me if I can work out how anyone can believe they are ‘fact’. Sure, many are obviously based on actual incidents, but their similarity to Greek mythology and Norse mythology and so on merely proves that they were the great stories going around at the time. There probably was a Hebrew called Joseph who did well in Egypt in the time of famine. There probably was a nephew of a great Hebrew who got his daughters pregnant. But the details, as presented here in Genesis, are legend... myth, yarn-spinning. How did it become ‘fact’ while the others became ‘myth’? It is no more or less believable than Dreamtime mythology, for instance.

The whole of Genesis, when you strip it away of its religiosity, is about sex and death. The whole book is a disguised tome of fucking and a record of man’s struggle with the idea of death. Freud had a point. So did Battaille. It is all that spurs me on in my life as well. Oh, I like my books, and I like to drink a cup of tea and warm my feet by the fire. I like wearing nice suits, and listening to music, but really, what spurs me on? Fear of death. Sex. Genesis is no different, and the writer of it (allegedly Moses, but in reality, some poet / journalist of the time) is just like me, you, and everyone else.

Next review will be Murakami’s latest, and I’m thinking of taking on Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ as well before moving on to Exodus.

Please leave a comment, even if it’s one word, just so I feel a bit more important than I actually am.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Waiting For Godalming

Waiting for Godalming
By Robert Rankin

Corgi, 2001

There is no way on Earth I would ever consciously choose to read this book or any book like it. But, when a very attractive and intelligent woman, only minutes after giving some of the best oral sex a man will ever have in his life, says, “Will you read this book?” the correct answer is “Yes.” Because I’m a bogan. So I read it.

It belongs to a very very nerdy corner of the book world that I label ‘Comic fantasy’. It's a genre as alien to me as Nicaraguan Modern Jazz. Now, coming from a diet of miserable European 19th century realist novelists as I do, I tend to avoid any novel in the ‘comic’ or ‘fantasy’ section of a bookstore. This one is both, so it’s a double whammy, but like I said, the chick was hot.

Every single fucking line of the book was ‘funny’. As the very attractive and intelligent woman put it, “Like ‘Flying High’”. That’s not to say I laughed at every line. In fact, I only laughed at about five lines. The humour comes at a cracking pace, so much so that Rankin lets the storyline, complex as it is, degenerate to the point of irrelevancy.

This book is about the gags, not the story, though the story is quite loaded. It includes a ghost-seeing machine, the murder of God (who looks like Richard E. Grant), evil hairdressers, Devils on the Earth, God’s illegitimate children, insurance fraud, Jewish virgins, an ongoing satirical dig at cliché-driven spy thrillers and lots of London cabbie in-jokes.

It’s somewhere between ‘Flying High’ and ‘Carry On Heaven’.

Rankin has an audience. He must do, there’s heaps of his books available, and I can see why people like him. He’s harmless. He’s funny. He’s cute. He’s lighter than a feather, and you can read his book on a plane or in the never-never land of ‘almost asleep but I’ll just finish this chapter’.

The jokes slide over the reader with ease. Thinking is optional. For example:

Fangio seemed lost for words. ‘I’m lost for words,’ he said.

You got it? That’s the gag. And they’re everywhere.

Here’s another one that features heavily; the gag where Rankin gives an insight into his writing process.

But let us now return to Icarus Smith, who is about to have a little action. A great deal of action, as it happens.
But no.
Let us not return to Icarus just yet. Let us instead return to Lazlo Woodbine...

“Hahahahahaha! Hilarious. The writer is inviting us into his process of structuring the narrative, but here’s his genius: He actually does know what he’s doing but he just pretends he doesn’t for the sake of the gag! Hahahahahahah!”



The best scenes were the ones involving the detective who referred to ‘dames’ and wore a trenchcoat. He insisted on his life being a cliché, even insisting that the book ends with a shootout on a rooftop. He made me smirk on occasion.

My biggest laugh was his description of his favourite pub; a ‘proper’ pub...

It served proper flat ale in proper dirty glasses. Had proper full ashtrays... There was proper unswept lino on the floor and proper unmopped vomit in the gents. There was a proper one man band called Johnny G who performed there on a Tuesday night. And proper drunken louts who threw proper light ale bottles at him when he did.

Well, maybe it’s not that funny after all. I did giggle a few times through the book, but really, I was mainly waiting for it to end. The last four chapters were shit.

The shame of it all is that the storyline, fractured as it was, could have been more gripping if he could have just toned down on the constant gags. Sometimes, situations are funny enough that they don’t need to be sullied by a cheap wordplay, or another joke that was the same as the four on the page before it.

Having said that, it would make for a funny movie. And that’s where a story like this belongs – on a screen. Not on a bookshelf.

All in all, it was okay. I suppose. Maybe a bit less than okay. It gave me something to do.

I give it a C Minus.

And now that I've just finished one absurdist comic fantasy, on to another absurdist comic fantasy... the second half of Genesis.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Genesis: 1-25

The First Book of Moses, called Genesis
By author unknown.
(King James Version, Penguin Publication of 2006)

I’ve decided to read The Holy Bible so you don’t have to. I will review every chapter, start to finish, both old and new testaments. It may take years, and I’m only going to read each ‘book’ every second book I read.

In the case of Genesis, the first book, I had to stop after 25 chapters because it was doing my head in. So, this entry is only for the first 25 chapters. I’m going to read and review a normal novel next, then I’ll do the next 25 chapters of Genesis.

Chapter One

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-3

That’s the thing about the King James version: it’s written exquisitely. I have no idea why anybody would bother reading any other ‘modern’ version because bloody hell, they’re just shit. They leave out all the poetry and what remains is the rubble of poetry, cheapening the ‘message’, rendering it an un-inspiring cult.

In Chapter One, God creates everything in six days and then takes a day off, thus giving launch to the labour movement.

The fact He made the world in less than a week is considered by several million mentally ill people to be scientific fact. They even have a name for it: Genesis Science, which is taught as Intelligent Design. These people are morons, and have no appreciation of poetry, or, for that matter, the beauty of the universe.

Chapter Two

Garden of Eden, Adam made in God’s likeness, Adam names every animal (must’ve taken a while, and I’m sure he was getting desperate in the end: “What’s this one do?”, “It eats ants,” “I call it ant-eater”) Eve made from his rib while he was asleep... you know the story. The two of ‘em hang about, shamelessly naked, like most normal husbands and wives.

If the Genesis scientists believe God made everything in six days, they must also believe that Adam named the platypus, even if it ended up only being found on the other side of the world.

Chapter Three

Oops. Trouble in Eden. See, the serpent suggests eating from the forbidden tree, and Eve at first says no because God had forbidden it, and so the serpent says, “Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3: 4-5

At this stage, I was yelling out, “Eat it! Otherwise you’re just a sheep, hanging about in a garden, eating all day, achieving nothing.” And thankfully, she ate it, and that’s why I can write book reviews on the internet.

She then gives Adam some Forbidden Fruit, and interestingly, in the King James version, he willingly eats it (I’ve read other newer versions where it is suggested that she kind of convinced him to eat it, but in this translation, taken directly from Ancient Greek, Adam says, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” Genesis 3: 12).

God gets pissed off, and takes voice and legs away from the serpent. He then creates ‘emnity’ between man and woman, and tells the woman that all women will now have ‘sorrow’ when having children (read: pain) and says that husbands will ‘rule over’ wives. God: The first misogynist. And for every Christian who argues this with me I say: Read the fucking text. It’s what it says. You can’t go on about creation and homosexuality if you can’t also acknowledge these bits.

But here’s the bit I found most interesting in all of Genesis. God says, “...for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”. Genesis 3: 19. In other words, when you die, you return to the ground. No mention of heaven, other than as a place God resides. No mention of being good and getting to heaven. God is clear: You come from dust, you will end up as dust.

If the Genesis Scientists believe that God created everything in six days, they must also believe snakes once talked and had legs.

Adam and Eve are evicted from the Garden of Eden, like streakers at a Test Match.

Chapter Four

Adam and Eve have two kids – Cain and Abel. Cain is a tiller, Abel a shepherd. They decide to make an offering to God. Cain offers some fruit. Abel offers meat. God prefers meat (so why are Adventists vegetarians?), and tells them so. God is clearly a cunt. Sometimes I get presents from two members of my family, but I don’t say, “Oh, I prefer this one to that one”. I thank them both, humbly. But I’m not God.

Cain sooks because God doesn’t like his gift. Then he kills Abel. Man, what a dysfunctional family. God’s first effort at Sims 6000BC sucks.

God is annoyed, so he tells Cain to go walkabout, you know, forever. Cain says, “But I’ll get killed!” (by who though? There’s only your mum and dad left, and surely you can outrun them). God puts a mark on him, so that he can recognise him (?) and to make sure nobody kills him, and if anyone does, they’ll cop revenge. This makes no sense, but fuck, neither do some of the plot twists in Romeo & Juliet, and that’s still a great yarn.

Cain goes to a place called ‘The land of Nod’ and marries someone, which, by logic, must be his sister. Cain, the first incest perpetrator. They have kids who have kids, and even Adam and Eve have another son called Seth. Lots of begetting.

If the Genesis Scientists believe that God created everything in six days, they must also believe the first family were victims/perpetrators of incest.

Chapter Five

Lots of begetting.

Chapter Six

God hates his Sims 6000BC game so much he decides to kill everyone in it except Noah, Noah’s family and some animals. God certainly doesn’t mince his words: (“And behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven, and everything that is in the earth shall die.” Genesis 6:17) I can’t help but hear an evil “Bwahahahaha” after that.

Chapter Seven

Noah, who is 600 years old just by the by, loads his ark up with his family, then two of every unclean animal and seven of every clean animal. Is a giraffe clean? What about dogs? They tend to eat poo, but they are kind of clean. So anyway, they all pile onto the ark (all 123,000 species of animal, presumably) and God drowns the Earth, and... (“all in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.” Genesis 7:22)

God: The first genocidal maniac.

Chapter Eight

Noah and his ark companions wait a long time for the waters to subside. Must’ve been pretty boring in there, but at least there were lots of animals to play with, like tigers, lions, elephants and meerkats.

There are some truly beautiful lines in here though. Check this out: (“The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained.” Genesis 8:2)

The NLT version of the bible has it translated this way: The underground waters stopped flowing, and the torrential rains from the sky were stopped.

Chapter Nine

They come off the ark and God promises them that they can eat all the beasts in the world, though I wouldn’t like to eat tarantula myself, even if deep fried. Then the weirdest thing happens. Noah gets pissed and falls asleep naked. His son, Ham, accidentally sees Noah naked, runs to tell his brothers, and they cover him up without looking at him. Noah wakes up, discovers that Ham saw him naked, and curses him for eternity. This is the cunt that God saved? A wino who curses his own son for stumbling across him naked?

What is this thing, Christianity? Vacuous dribble about how Jesus loves us? Do these idiots like Guy Sebastian read Genesis? It says, “If your old man gets pissed and takes all his clothes off, and you accidentally see him naked, then you are cursed for eternity.” I’ve received better life-lessons from Fairfax bloggers, and they’re really fucked.

Chapter Ten

Noah’s kids spread around the globe, begetting.

Chapter Eleven

The people are spread, but God doesn’t like how they all speak the same language, so he gives them all different languages so that they can’t, umm, communicate with one another. For some reason. Shame though – in hindsight, I wish he just settled on Italian, and all of us could speak it.
The tower of Babel is worked on. More begetting.

Chapter Twelve

God likes Abram, and promises him some land (belonging to the Canaanites, descendants of naughty Ham, who made the mistake of seeing his father nude). Abram sets off with his wife, his nephew Lot and some other dudes. So anyhoo, they get there, build some temples, but then have to deal with a famine so they go to Egypt for a feed. Abram gets his wife to pretend that she’s actually his sister. He reckons if the Egyptians know that she’s his wife, they’ll kill her.

No, I don’t know why.

So the Pharaoh lets them stay at his joint, and he of course takes a fancy to Abram’s wife (thinking she was his sister), but because he took this fancy, God plagues him. But it wasn’t his fault! He didn’t know that she was Abram’s wife! Abram and God are cunts, and the Pharaoh was right to be pretty pissed off when he found out.

Chapter Thirteen

After completely fucking up the Pharaoh, they leave Egypt and head south. Abram and his nephew Lot are rich, somehow. So rich in fact, the lands were not enough to keep all their cattle, so they agree to split up. Lot goes to Jordan, near the town of Sodom and Abram goes back to the promised land, settling in Hebron.

Chapter Fourteen

War in the vicinity of Jordan. Lot gets looted. Abram finds out and leads an army to at least save Lot, and his extended family and people loyal to them. He brings them all back to his land. So the King of Sodom, who is the most mighty of the warlords, turns up at Abram’s joint and offers him riches in return for handing over Lot and his followers. Abram won’t bargain.

Chapter Fifteen

God promises to help Abram, because he’s a decent fellow. Abram is upset that he doesn’t have a child and heir. God says that Abram will have as many children as there are stars in the sky (about 80,000,000, right?), though his heir will come from his bowels.

No, I don’t get it.

God says Abram can have all the land he can see, all he has to do is kill some heifers, she-goats, rams, turtle-doves and pigeons. Fucking she-goats- who needs them anyway?

The plot twists in this book are all over the place, seriously.

Chapter Sixteen

So it turns out that the reason Abram doesn’t have kids is because his wife, Sarai, has bad plumbing. Easy fixed. Abram fucks the maid (at Sarai’s suggestion). Bible: the first maid-fantasy porn.

At first Sarai is cool with it, but after they fuck the maid gets pregnant and then gets all uppity around Sarai. Abram suggests to her that even though she’s pregnant, she’s still just a maid and that Sarai can do whatever she wants with her. So Sarai kicks her out. God finds the maid wandering about, pregnant, and tells her to get her arse back to the house and be submissive... you know, just shut up and have the fucking baby, woman. God’s misogyny back on display again, not to mention his class society leanings.

I say to the Genesis scientists: If you want Intelligent Design taught in schools because of what is written in Genesis, I demand you also teach that it’s okay for a husband to get the maid pregnant if his wife can’t conceive.

Chapter Seventeen

The maid has a baby – he’s called Ishmael. God changes Abram’s name to Abraham, and says that he will be the father of many great nations. Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah. God promises Abraham that he will have many children (to the maid?) but all the boys have to be circumcised. This is very, very important. Not only should the boys that Abraham fathers be circumcised, so should all the men that live in Abraham’s house, or work there. This sets off a circumcision orgy the likes of which De Sade and Battaille would envy. (“And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day.” Genesis: 17:23)

Even the slaves had to go through with it. I’m circumcised myself, but at least my parents had the decency to have it done when I was too young to remember.

Oh, God also gives Sarah the ability to bear children. Why didn’t he do that in the first place instead of getting Abraham to fuck the maid?

Chapter Eighteen

God and some mates (angels?) visit Abraham. He feeds them. They mention that Sarah will be able to have kids now, which makes Sarah laugh because she reckons she’s too old. God gets a bit antsy and says, (“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” Genesis 18:14). Show-off.

After supper, God mentions he was thinking of destroying Sodom because they are all naughty. Abraham reckons that if there’s some righteous people there, God shouldn’t destroy the city. They haggle about how many righteous people would need to be there in order to save it. God suggest fifty, but Abraham haggles him down to ten. God is a shithouse haggler. Don’t send God into a Thai market-stall to buy souvenirs.

Chapter Nineteen

This is terrific, this chapter. My personal favourite. God’s mates, the two angels, rock up in Sodom and visit Lot. Lot invites the angels in and offers to wash their feet. Fair enough. But then all the locals turn up at Lot’s house because they’ve heard about the angels and they want to have sex with them. Lot comes up with a cunning plan. To save the angels from being raped by the locals, he instead offers his two daughters to be raped. Fortunately, they were never raped because the angels blinded all the locals. But still, the offer was there.

The next morning, the angels tell Lot to get his wife and daughters ready to move out, because they are going to destroy Sodom. They flee towards the town of Zoar and are told not to look back at Sodom, but Lot’s wife couldn’t help but look back and so she was turned into a pillar of salt. This is interpreted in many different ways – the most popular being that she was punished for yearning to stay in Sodom rather than fleeing under the guidance of God. But who could blame her? Sodom was her home, after all, and she was probably getting some pretty good sex from the locals while Lot was at work.

So Lot and his two daughters hid in a cave for a while. The daughters, obviously worried that living in a cave will limit their ability to find decent husbands, decide to get their own Dad, Lot, drunk, and then have sex with him. They do this, and both have children. Feminists reckon that in reality, Lot probably raped them and then blamed them for getting him drunk. Personally, I just think that whoever wrote the story was either a cocaine addict or a pervert. Or both.

Chapter Twenty

Back to Abraham and Sarah, who hit the road to Gerar. They pull the same, “She’s my sister, not my wife” trick on poor Abimelech, King of Gerar. Abimelech fucks Sarah, then gets in trouble with God for fucking someone’s wife. But then... ready for the plot twist? Turns out Sarah IS in fact Abraham’s half-sister (as well as his wife). Wow. It’s like ‘Chinatown’, or the private letters of Lord Byron. Anyway, Abimelech gives heaps of money to Abraham and all is forgiven.

The moral of this chapter is, umm, I have no fucking idea.

Chapter Twenty-One

Sarah, who was once infertile, has a child called Isaac. But remember, Abraham already has a son (Ishmael) to the maid. But now that his wife Sarah has a child, suddenly Ishmael is not so important. After consulting with God, they kick the maid and Ishmael out of the house.
What a mind-fuck.

Just as the maid and the kid are about to die of starvation, God takes pity (for once) and promises that the kid will grow to be a great leader.

Abimelech the King of them parts makes a truce with Abraham, the most wealthy and influential person in them parts. Kind of like Hawke and Murdoch agreeing to be friends, for mutual benefit. Abraham bribes Abimelech with ewes, and in return, Abimelech builds Abraham a well. You scratch my back... The first recorded moment of local council bribery.

Chapter Twenty-Two

God is being a cunt again. He tells Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. Abraham doesn’t have a problem with this, and just before he kills his son, God tells him it was all a joke / test.

Chapter Twenty-Three

Sarah dies. Abraham buys some land near Hebron to use as a burial ground for Sarah and anyone else related that dies.

Chapter Twenty-Four
Abraham, now getting old and ill, makes his servant promise that he won’t let Isaac ever marry a dirty Canaanite (the descendants of Ham, who saw Noah naked that time). In other words, keep the blood pure. Though, in hindsight, because they are all relatable back to Noah, the plan will fail anyway.

So the servant heads off to find a suitable wife for Isaac with some camels. Conspiring with God, he decides that whoever offers water to him and the camels must be a good woman and a worthy wife for Isaac. This woman is Rebekah (a second cousin to Isaac anyway) and aside from offering water, happens to be a sexy virgin. The servant then purchases Rebekah with lots of jewels. The servant and Rebekah’s family have a piss-up, then the next morning the servant and Rebekah head back to Gerar. She meets Isaac, and they get married immediately.

Chapter Twenty-Five

Abraham marries a chick called Keturah. They have lots of babies, plus he also has lots of babies with concubines, but Isaac is his favourite. He bequeaths everything he owns to Isaac, but only gives his other children ‘gifts’. Abraham lives to 175 before ‘giving up the ghost’ (interesting – I never knew that was a Biblical colloquialism). He is buried in Ephron, near his wife.

Isaac and Rebekah have twins. God, being a cunt, makes the pregnancy painful, and tells Rebekah that the firstborn will always be a servant of the second-born, even though they will both be leaders of nations. (“And the first came out red, all over like a hairy garment...” Genesis 25:25)

Esau was the firstborn and grows to be a good hunter. Jacob is the second-born twin, and he grows to be a dumb cunt who ‘dwells in tents’. Isaac prefers Esau because he ‘eats his venison’, but Rebekah prefers the lazy one... probably a mummy’s boy. What is it with these Biblical families preferring one kid over another?

Anyway, because Esau was born first, he was set to inherit the family fortune, but one day he falls ill and desperately needs some food and water, so he goes to his twin brother and pleads for some food and water, but Jacob refuses unless Esau ‘sells’ his birthright. Esau, desperate for some food and water, agrees. Jacob, who until this time had done nothing but ‘dwelt in tents’ like some ancient-era stoner, becomes the heir to the family fortune by being a total cunt.

Half-time summary

There is no mention of an afterlife. I find that interesting.

There is nothing in Genesis that is ‘moral’ by current standards. The lesson is: God created everything so you have to play by his rules, whether they make sense or not. That’s the only rule. If this involves pimping / selling your daughters, fucking your own daughters, killing people, bribing officials, being cursed for eternity for doing what comes natural, then, so be it. That’s the rules.

It is written beautifully. Not as well as Shakespeare or Dostoyevsky, but beautiful nonetheless. If you take your time and read it out loud, it is wonderfully poetic and powerful.

Anyone who claims Genesis contains scientific facts is a retard.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Dead Europe

Dead Europe by Christos Tsoilkas


Well, there’s two synopses (synopsi?). The book is kind of two books, although they come together like a yin-yang at the end.

One book is the story of Isaac, a struggling Australian photographer who is in Europe on some sort of arts grant thingo (I hate the term ‘arts grant’... I start thinking of ‘installations’ that make no sense, you know, some artist gets $100,000 to stick a red broom up their arse). Isaac starts in Athens, Greece, then visits the Greek village his family came from, then travels to other cities in Europe, ending up nearly dead in a hospital bed in London. Throughout his journey he longs for his de-facto partner Colin in Melbourne, but obviously not longingly enough to not cheat on poor Colin. Our very gay friend Isaac manages to have heaps and heaps of rugged, blood-and-gore sex on his journey.

Oh, there was one tender sex scene in London, but that was over in a flash. Oh, and once, having a bizarre attack of heterosexuality, he cunnilingus’d a Brazilian woman in a train because he could -- “... smell the velvet in her cunt” --- Page 256 – The ‘velvet’ to which he refers is her menstrual blood, which he wanted to drink. As she orgasms, he comes in his pants and then develops a kind of bloodlust for the rest of his journey. He may or may not have stayed with a ghost in France.

The other half of the book is the story of his maternal ancestry, starting with his great-grandparents in a remote village in Greece who end up as ‘refos’ in Melbourne.

The Cons:

This book is very gay, and by ‘gay’ I mean homosexual. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, other than the fact I am not homosexual, so every time there was a gay sex scene and loving descriptions of cocks and arses I kind of flinched. I imagine gay dudes suffer the same case of, “Whatever, let’s just get on with the story” every time they have to read erotic, sensual or even implied descriptions of heterosexual sex, which is probably 95% of all such material (guessing – I only have anecdotal evidence of this based on all TV shows and movies). Isaac likes it rough too. The more pain, the more messy the fluid spread, the more debauched, the more vulnerable his sex partner, the more fucked-up they are... the more he likes it.

Having heaps of gay sex is not BAD, as such. It doesn’t make it a bad book. It just means that someone like me, who has zero interest in and receives zero titillation from rough gay sex, gets occasionally sidetracked. And there’s a lot of it. Unlike watching a film with a gay sex scene, I can’t just go and put the kettle on. With a book, I come back with a cup of Liptons and the words, --- “Only his cock was exposed. He lay the boy on the podium, turned him onto his back, lifted the boy’s thin smooth legs over his own tuxedoed shoulders, and he entered him... a shower of semen arced, reflecting silver as it was touched by the candlelight”--- Page 225-226 are still there. I raise my cup of tea to my lips and think, "Hmm, must root a chick in the next month or so."

Every second chapter is the story of Isaac’s journey through Europe, and so every second chapter there’s guaranteed to be either rough gay sex (usually on drugs), vomit, piss, shit, pain, tears, sweat, violence and blood. Always blood.

Some of it was fascinating, most of it was gross. In the author's defence, it was meant to be.

The Pros:

Everything else. There are three aspects to the novel that I fucking loved, and had me gripped.

From start to finish, the discussion of Jews is paramount in both the story of Isaac’s journey and the story of his family.

There is a very direct Jewish plotline at one point, set back during WWII when Isaac’s grandparents, young newlyweds at the time, hide a teenage Jewish lad from the Nazis. They do this at the behest of the boy's father, who gives the young newlyweds all his treasures and money and is never seen again. Now, at the same time, the young newlyweds are having trouble conceiving a child, so Lucia, the beautiful young wife, fucks the poor Jewish teenager, gets pregnant, doesn’t tell her husband it's not his child, and instead, asks her husband to kill the Jew... ---“It is by protecting that bastard Hebrew that you are condemning your soul”--- Page 118.

It is one of the more powerful chapters/sequences of a novel I have read in quite some time. Indirectly, throughout the book, the discussion of ‘The Jews’ and anti-Semitism is discussed in great length and referenced in a multitude of ways.: The general anti-Semitism of your average European (something I noticed when I spent a couple of years there), the fact that Isaac’s boyfriend had a swastika tattoo and had once defaced a Jewish cemetery, the fact that a few Jewish characters appear and disappear, coy, gloating or otherwise of their Jewishness. It is indeed an astute observation Christos is making, one that is largely ignored, but I have been acutely aware of myself for many years: That anti-semitism DEFINES some people – hell, it defines some nations, and it envelopes people, and obsesses them, and they mythologise the Jews, even when they are trying to be impartial, and the whole Jewish thing is MASSIVE when studying the history of Europe and the current state of affairs in the world. It just ain’t discussed in that context. It’s swept under carpets. It’s denied, even. It deserves a whole book (and I’m sure many have been written) but Christos hammers it home from start to finish, from every different angle, from different voices, in different tongues, and he does it beautifully, powerfully and artistically.

The next pro is his description of the dying Europe, the Europe in decay, as seen through the eyes of an Aussie Greek. I’m a bit of a philhellene myself, and I lived in Athens for 18 months so I’m always eager to read anything about a Greek by a Greek. The fact he’s an Aussie Greek makes it even more familiar to me. His descriptions of Athens and the Greek villages were spot-on, and it was convincing enough for me to open my mind to anything he said about the rest of his journey through Europe. There’s a lot of referencing to Europe simply being ‘different’ to Australia. And it is. There’s something about Australia’s open-spaces and lack of architectural history that makes Europe an alien place. Not better or worse, just alien, and the ‘decay’ of Europe does do something to Australian minds. It decays us. We see a crumbling building, we crumble morally. I can’t explain it, but I got there and all I did was crumble (having a lot of fun in the process). In all of Isaac’s travels he meets exhausted, debauched, confused and angry people...and they seem normal, as if that’s all that Europe can offer. Isaac ends up decaying so far he winds up nearly dead in a London hospital – this is explained as being somewhat the result of a curse on his family, somewhat Isaac’s own bloodlust / delirium, Europe’s decay and perhaps just a good old virus. Or all four. It’s not clear, but hell, I didn’t want a medical explanation. Whatever the case, this is not a travel book – there’s no Eiffel Towers, Parthenons, wacky folk dancers or tours of the Vatican with a thermos and a sesame biscuit. It’s a Europe of prostitution, drugs, crumbling buildings, ancient blood fueds, racism, porn, bashings, beatings, poverty, casinos and pure beauty all rolled up into one experience – decay.

It reminded me of this painting:

The final pro is the whole back-story of his maternal ancestry. It starts like a fairy-tale: ---“High in the mountains , where the wind goes home to rest, lived Lucia, the most beautiful woman in all of Europe” --- Page 15. And it just gets better from there. It’s a tale of bickering superstitious Greeks, and who doesn’t like a tale of bickering superstitious Greeks? Kazantsikas is one of my favourite authors ever (Zorba The Greek and Christ Recrucified – my two favourites), and Tsoilkas’s tale is like one of his. It’s fucking fantastic, horribly violent at times, but fucking fantastic. There’s devils roaming, beautiful women, wars, infanticide... it’s got it all, and it’s a ripping yarn and I wish it was a book of itself, even though Tsoilkas quite nicely converges the two stories at the end.

All in all, a pretty good read, and the fact the author has to work part-time as a vet nurse is an indictment on the Australian literary community.

I give it a B-minus.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Testes 1,2

Underwhelming blog, coming soon!