LAMB: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
In my HUMBLE opinion, LAMB is one chapter too long. It's not a length issue. To me, that last chapter just didn't fit.
And now that that's out of the way . . .
If you despise shooting stuff out of your nostrils, don't read this book.
If you delight in loudly and repeatedly screaming, "I'm offended," do.
Little is known of Christ's early years. To correct this, Levi bar Alpheus (known as Biff because of the sound made each time his mother smacked him upside his head) is brought back from dust by the angel Raziel. Held prisoner in the Hyatt in St. Louis, Biff is ordered to start writing.
As Biff writes about all those years missing in the New Testament, we come to know Joshua of Nazareth through his eyes, from the time they first met by the town's well when both were six, as Josh sat there with a lizard in his mouth, just its tail sticking out.
This recounting of their first meeting sets the tone for much of what follows: an absurd mix of farce and poignancy that works.
Under Raziel's supervision — except when the angel is bemoaning the horrible inhumanities in today's world as depicted by soap operas and professional wrestling — Biff world is now a mixture of the present and his memories.
Several of these memories involve Mary of Magdala — betrothed at 10 and married by 12 as arranged by her parents — the little red-haired girl that had moved into their neighborhood who was first their pal, and then became much more to both.
But from the start something else is calling Josh. Something he is aware of but doesn't understand. Ultimately his question becomes: What exactly is the Messiah expected to do?
Joshua searches for those he believes hold that answer: the three wise men who journeyed to the stable in Bethlehem where he was born. And Biff, his bestest friend, of course, goes with him.
Together they travel through the Middle and Far East encountering and learning from Hinduism, Buddhism, ninjas and a yeti until Josh's understanding, while not there yet, is more complete. Although the two are still close, by the time they finally return home, the distance between them has slowly grown.
Josh's teachings draw a constantly increasing following. Among them are several eccentric Apostles Moore uses to mask the growing sense of foreboding he creates through Biff.
We know how it ultimately ends, but long before that so did Josh. He accepts it. Biff, however, can't.
If I had to come up with one word to describe LAMB, that word would be unexpected.
Just ditch the last chapter, okay?