Two thousand years ago four travellers enter the Judean desert to fast and pray for their lost souls. In the blistering heat and barren rocks they encounter the evil merchant Musa, who holds them in his tyrannical power. Yet there is also another, afaint figure in the distance, fasting for forty days, a Galilean who they say has the power to work miracles ...
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The story of Jesus's 40 days in the wilderness is surely among the most celebrated and widely diffused narratives in Western culture. Why, then, would Jim Crace choose to retell it in strictly naturalistic, non-miraculous terms? The obvious answer would be that the godless novelist is trying to debunk divinity--to take the entire New Testament down a notch. And at first, this does seem to be the case. Crace's Jesus first got religion as an adolescent, and "was transformed by god like other boys his age were changed by girls." His peers view his spiritual fervor as a youthful eccentricity. Even now, as the thirtysomething Jesus heads out to the Judean desert for his 40-day retreat, he's perceived by his fellow anchorites as a flighty and impractical Galilean. They even call him "Gally" for short--and what sort of deity answers to a nickname?
Yet Crace is hardly the jeering materialist we might expect. As Jesus takes to his cliff-top cave, the author renders his religious transports without a hint of irony, and with a linguistic elegance that can hardly be called disrespectful: "The prayers were in command of him. He shouted out across the valley, happy with the noise he made. The common words lost hold of sound. The consonants collapsed. He called on god to join him in the cave with all the noises that his lips could make. He called with all the voices in his throat." And while most of the temptations of Christ are visited upon him by humans--by the motley crew of his cave-dwelling neighbors--he resists them with what we can only call superhuman will. Quarantine does, of course, operate on a fairly realistic plane. Jesus dies of starvation long before his 40-day fast is complete, and his fellow retreatants, who take center stage throughout much of the novel, are much too confused and brutal ever to figure in any Sunday school pageant. Still, Crace leaves at least the possibility of resurrection intact at the end, which should ensure that his brilliant book will rattle both believers and non-believers alike.From the Publisher:
"A brilliantly unusual, entertaining and profound book." --Carey Harrison, San Francisco Chronicle
"Stunning...Crace is a writer of hallucinatory skill." --John Updike, The New Yorker
"Engaging...magical...There is wit and meat in every detail....Crace's portrait of Jesus is audacious and disconcerting." --Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times
"A spiritual mystery of the best kind...the creation of an ambitious imagination...a literary miracle." --USA Today
"Immensely impressive...This novel is a high-wire act, a tour de force, a garment expertly tailored from materials of the highest quality." --Bruce Bawer, The Washington Post Book World
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Book Description ISIS Audio Books, 2000. Book Condition: Good. Unabridged. Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP80360136
Book Description Isis, Oxford, 1997. Book Condition: Good. 6 cassettes, approximately 7 hours running time. Ex-library but still in good condition. There is a piece of plastic missing from the outer corner of the outer case, and some splitting to its inside, spine edge. The cassettes themselves are still in very good condition with only minor wear to the tape housings. All my books are carefully packed and I make every effort to despatch orders the same day. If you have any questions regarding this book, or wish to see a picture before you buy, please do not hesitate to ask. Audio Book. Bookseller Inventory # 004338