Those of you who have read the Bible or have at least seen the movie Dogma may be aware that in the Bible the story of the life of Jesus goes from his birth to approximately 30 years later. In his book Lamb, Moore takes on the task of telling the story of what occurred during those years, told through Joshua’s (i.e. Jesus; see text for explanation) sarcastic and perverted sidekick, Biff.
I’m not going to waste my time or yours with warnings or apologies about the content of this book. It’s a comedic story of the life of Christ. That should tell you all you need to know in that regards. Regardless of your creed or philosophy, if this concept offends you, don’t read it. If the idea intrigues you, read on. I, for one, was not disappointed.
Joshua is the Son of God, trying to figure out exactly what that means. Because of the obvious disabilities this presents, Biff is around to lie and cheat for Josh so he doesn’t get himself killed through his sheer goodness and naivete. Through Biff’s point of view, we follow the two as they grow from boys playing Moses v. Pharaoh and pining for their childhood friend Maggie (Mary Magdalen) in Nazareth, to teenagers traveling to Asia learning sacred texts, meditation, and kung fu, to young men in India learning to listen, and in the case of Biff, the Karma Sutra. Years later as adults, the pair return home so Joshua can fulfill his destiny as the Messiah to his people.
Biff is an entertaining narrator and I had to stop reading this book in public because people would give me strange looks when I giggled to myself. But Biff is also Joshua’s best friend. He doesn’t follow Josh around because he is the Savior but because Biff truly cares about him. I enjoyed the companionship the two shared and also the camaraderie and love they share with Maggie. Maggie herself was an engaging character, being much more than the harlot she’s often portrayed as. She’s funny and strong and is often right there in the thick of things with Biff and Joshua.
As for the big man himself, Moore expertly paints Joshua in a human light, making him all the more remarkable. Unfortunately, the detail and humanity given to Joshua was denied to the Apostles, who where largely underdeveloped. I would like to have seen these men fleshed out a little more. It was as though they were only included because, hey, you can’t tell about the end of Christ’s life without talking about his Apostles.
To be honest, I felt like the end was a bit rushed. Despite the fact that this book was intended primarily as comedy, I think the final chapters could have had more power in them without taking away from that intent. I would have liked more there but I was still reasonably satisfied regardless.
Did I enjoy reading Lamb? Absolutely. Do I believe it was a masterpiece? Not really. It was a great story and it has inspired me to check out other books written by Moore, but I didn’t really leave a huge impression on me. I give it 8 out of 10 stars. Even with a few flaws, it was interesting and I got a lot of laughs out of it.
“Nobody’s perfect. Well, there was this one guy, but we killed him….” – Lamb, Christopher Moore.