The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, a new book by James Frey, rethinks the final testament of the Good Book by--graphically--depicting Jesus Christ as a homosexual drug addict. The book is set to be published on Good Friday in the UK.
The Guardian ripped the book apart in a recent review:
Frey happens to be a shameless faker, who manufactures mishaps to embellish his personal mystique. In A Million Little Pieces, his memoir about his supposed crack addiction, he claimed to have knocked down a Michigan cop while high, after which he allegedly brawled with a platoon of beefy officers who hurled him into jail for three months; it turned out that he was merely involved in a minor collision, behaved with exemplary sobriety at the police station, and was released a few hours later. Harried by Oprah Winfrey, Frey admitted that the confessional memoir was a tissue of fibs, but isn't that, he asked, what fiction means? Others were less impressed by his flippant irony. His agent sacked him, and his publisher shrewdly reneged on a seven-figure advance for two more books. Customers who felt defrauded sued, and were sent refunds.
All this was a mere five years ago; now Frey is back, unredeemed, assuming the persona of a divine con artist who is his fancied alter ego. "He's been called a saviour, a revolutionary, a genius," the publicists declare. Of course, they admit, he has also been fingered as a mythomaniac trickster. But couldn't the same be said of Christ, who in the new novel is, like Frey, martyred by the media? It's a feat of stupefying impudence: if only there were a God able to strike the imposter down during his tour of the talk shows! But Frey is the product of a culture with a short memory and a skewed moral sense. He's also less a writer than a professional celebrity, which means that he can count on being rewarded for behaving badly.
This current crock of mendacity is a "high-concept" fabrication, artlessly crass in its retelling of what's meant to be the greatest story ever told. Christ returns to Earth, to get us ready for the annihilation of our vile, belligerent species. Renamed Ben Zion, he joins a band of apocalyptic loons who hole up in the subway tunnels beneath Manhattan. His divinity seems to be proved when he miraculously survives an accident on a building site after a sheet of glass punctures his skull and severs his arteries. He communes with his heavenly father during epileptic seizures, and gathers around him a gaggle of hapless apostles, to whom he preaches drippy sermons about peace. He licks and laps the genitalia of his female acolytes, disseminating celestial bliss in their nether regions; bouts of tantric sex follow, along with vegetarian love-ins at a rural commune.
The Final Testament of The Holy Bible is blandly unmoving. You'll be irritated not enraged, and will find its thraldom easy to resist. Extraordinary masterpiece? Well, let's just say it makes Jesus Christ Superstar sound like Handel'sMessiah.
Beyond angering The Guardian's reviewer, it has also angered Christians.
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