Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Review: Lamb by Christopher Moore

When Carol and I picked Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal as our next book to read aloud together, we knew what we were getting ourselves in for. It's a long book, but I read it ten years ago when it first came out; I remember it as wet yourself funny. In fact, a friend of mine borrowed my book, then had to buy me a new copy because she was reading beside the lake and laughed so hard that she dropped the book in the water.

And Lamb was funny. But I forgot how dark, too. Everybody dies could have just as well have been the subtitle. Interesting, how memory glosses over that part.

One of the joys of reading aloud is listening to the dialogue, hearing the tempo of the book. In this, Lamb excels. Moore has a gift for turning comic banter into prose.

My only regret is that after an transporting first 200 pages in which Moore imagines Biff and Joshua (Jesus)'s childhood and coming of age, he felt so tied to his biblical source materials that he cracked many fewer jokes. In the later part of the story, Josh becomes a side character, and without a straight man, Biff's lecherous and gluttonous ways get old fast.

While certainly not reverent in the traditional sense, Moore's books espouse their own brand of humanism. The wicked are usually punished, the carefree and the vagabonds learn a little responsibility (but never too much). So it goes with Lamb, as our hero Biff escapes any responsibility for his flaws. Like a sitcom, the ending resets, and I'm a little surprised there's never been a sequel.

This is book 19 of 52 I'm reading as my New Year's resolution.


  1. "Wet yourself funny." Sign me up! I don't read enough funny books.

    1. Agreed. Humor seems to be the most difficult emotion to elicit in print. Moore stands in elite company in that regard.