Never judge a book by its cover, right Does going on the title count We all do that, of course, and it was the title that first grabbed me, then the description made it a must read Morrow is a writer that I was only vaguely aware of, but the reviews appealed to me immediately So when the Atheist Book Club group were looking for fiction recommendations I just had to put it forward, and am very glad I did although I was slightly worried that the book was perhaps less atheistic than I had anticipated.
The initial set up just sounds so inventive and funny The archangels come to the Vatican to tell them that god has died and his two mile long corpse is floating in the mid Atlantic They have hollowed out an iceberg off Svalbard and want it towing to this tomb before corruption sets in, so the Vatican hires a former super tanker Captain, disgraced since being in charge when his vessel caused the world s most damaging oil slick along with his former ship to do the job.
I confess that what I expected was fairly straightforward, irreverent humour and plenty of digs at the absurdities of religion, but I was somewhat wide of the mark Don t get me wrong, it is a very funny book althoughin way of later Pratchett with the humour leaveningserious episodes than early, slapstick Pratchett and I m sure that many people would consider it irreverent simply because of the subject, but Morrow does much, muchthan take the easy option What he gives us is an incredibly smart book about how we define our beliefs as much as they define us, about the roots of morality of course , about hypocrisy, about how people react when their most cherished beliefs are threatened and the ends that they ll go to to protect those beliefs and, most of all, about personal redemption in the face of an uncaring universe.
The author draws his cast of characters superbly well all, arguably and to varying degrees, caricatures perhaps, but also with subtlety and humanity And as often as not, any cartooning of characters or situations is there to wrongfoot us, to show up our own assumptions For instance, when the crew of the tanker begin to lose all moral perspective I admit that I was initially disappointed that Morrow seemed to be showing the collapse of morality without an omnipresent god but, as at every turn of the novel, he had of course anticipated me and lead me down a path that would bring me to a farthorough and entertaining discussion of the questions than I had given him credit for.
This is one of those rare books that not only kept me gripped and entertained from cover to cover, but kept me thinkingprofoundly than I could have before I read it for long after An instant favourite, and I think I will be spending quite some time in Mr Morrow s company.
God is dead, and his two mile long corpse is floating in the Atlantic, right around the equator Anthony van Horne, a disgraced oil tanker captain is tapped by the Vatican to haul God s body up to the North Pole, where the grieving angels have prepared a cave for his internment and preservation Van Horne is joined by a priest with a Kantian bent, a sensual nun, and Cassie Fowler, an atheist marooned after the crash of the Beagle II Cassie has plans of her own for God s body, which she sees as a direct assault on the ideals of the Enlightenment and feminism and gets her rich boyfriend the son of a famed condom manufacturer to enlist a group of hapless WWII re enactors in a full fledged assault on the corpse Meanwhile, realizing that if God is dead then anything is permitted to borrow from Dostoevsky , the crew is gettingthan a little restless.
Yes, this book is every bit as insane as it sounds It is also very funny and surprisingly thoughtful Recommended for any brave reader.
I seem to be having bad luck with books recently This is onein a series of books with amazing potential that are poorly executed This book has a fabulous conceit G d is dead, and the angels hire a shipping captain to tow the corpse to the burial site There are all sorts of opportunities to explore the nature of morality, religion, free will, the meaning of life, etc But while the author does explore those concepts, he s clearly not a philosopher, and there isn t much in the way of novelty, or sophistication in the ideas he explores The characters are the kind that you don t want to read about They are arrogant, stupid, extremist, and morally bankrupt Morrow doesn t spare any group for this treatment rationalist atheists, the vatican, working class folks, wealthy folk, new agers, traditionalists the only characters you don t spend the whole book wanting to strangle are minor characters that you don t know enough about to care about and the ship s priest you only want to strangle him for half of the book The plot is straightforward enough, but the twists don t really make any sense, and the ending in particular is a terrible disappointment I won t go into detail and provide spoilers, but suffice it to say there s little to be spoiled The whole of the book is building to the mystery of how and why G d died, and the answer to those questions is an unsatisfying cop out.
That would be bad enough, but the frustration is compounded by the fact that the book is written crudely Gratuitous and graphic descriptions of sex and violence, constant swearing, and generally a writing style that is unpleasant to read I waded through this book based on the promise of a climactic ending that would bring it all together and make it worth it In the end, I wish I had my time back.
I think I came to this with the wrong expectations It s pretty light on the theology in favor of some Pythonesque absurd humor, which of course would please most folks I enjoyed it but coming in the midst of the dark 900 pg doorstoppers I seem to be specializing in these days I was not in the best place to fully appreciate the humor That said, I would certainly recommend this to certain of my friends.
A real thought provoking read But note that this book is definitely NOT for everybody When I was discussing this with a friend a not so religious but someone who believed in the Almighty , I got a high brow reaction Compared to Lamb by Christopher Moore Nah forget I said that I cannot compare this with that book.
The premise of Towing Jehovah is fascinating to me What if God died What if he descended from heaven, lifeless and floating aimlessly in the Atlantic ocean, with his falling angels announcing to Earthly religious leaders that they must bury him in an icy Arctic cave How would people respond While I thoroughly enjoyed Morrow s creative, yet clear writing and his bold questioning of possibility, traits I always look forward to in his stories, I felt Towing Jehovah to be lacking Throughout the novel, a handful of different characters showed a variety of responses to God s death a sea captain who just wants to reclaim a bit of honor, a deeply reflective religious scholar who must weigh Vatican imperatives with his own moral searching, a Jewish deckhand who struggles who the anti Semitic prejudice of his evangelical peerthrough these stories we see the struggle to live ethically in Anno Postdomini One.
But there is one set of characters that make no sense to me How would atheists respond to the sudden appearance of a large mass identified as God s body I would imagine one prominent response would be validation through the knowledge that God was in fact some sort of giant humanoid and, if this giant humanoid also facilitated or inspired some Biblical stories, he certainly didn t create the universe or control life or death, as evidenced by his current state God s death, should the term god still apply, would reveal him to have been far from omnipotent The book s two atheists, Cassie and Oliver, leaders of an activist atheist society, respond quite differently They freak out, believing the appearance of the deity s corpse to be an event that will usher in a new era of ignorance, though ignorance concerning what, I am unclear In their view, God s death somehow validates everything they are against It validates the existence of a god, it validates the dominance of patriarchy, and it weights faith over reason Morrow never provides a reason for why they feel this way, for why they never consider the possibility that God s death will alter rather than further the course of human history, but their panic does allow an essential plot line to develop I hate to say this about Morrow because I m such a fan of his work, but I feel like he left a major gap in the story and filled it with a bit of nonsense in order to facilitate a plot device Ultimately, the hole and layer of brush covering it prevented me from going forward with the book and believing its conclusions For how concise, yet thorough Morrow is in his short stories, I am bummed that the first novel of his I ve read was so intellectually disappointing Nevertheless, I did enjoy his language his use of words and his way of revealing characters and worlds was always enthralling and I will probably read the rest of the books in the Godhead series with the hope that he willfully explore the diversity of responses to the death of God.
God Is Dead, And Anthony Van Horne Must Tow The Corpse To The Arctic To Preserve Him From Sharks And Decomposition En Route Van Horne Must Also Contend With Ecological Guilt, A Militant Girlfriend, Sabotage Both Natural And Spiritual, And Greedy Hucksters Of Oil, Condoms, And Doubtful Ideas Winner Of AWorld Fantasy Award Yesterday at work, I got an ILL request for this book The title did not ring any mental bells I pulled the book from the shelf No mental bells rang It wasn t until I was checking the book out to the borrowing library that I looked at the cover and heard the faintest mental ding The illustration on the cover was familiar.
I read the story description on the back of the book Oh yes, that sounded familiar It was familiar I had read this book.
But I can t remember where I was when I read the book or why I chose to read it or if someone suggested it to me Such mystery.
Of course, I can t really remember if I liked it, but if it didn t leave much of an impression on me, I must not have liked it very much.
A strong 4.
0 StarsThis felt very similar to a Christopher Moore novel but slightlyserious, slightly less funny and slightlyheart A very fun and strange odyssey of an oil tanker and it s crew as it tows the body of Jehovah to the arctic for his last rest I think where the book really shines is in its characters It wasn t until I finished the novel that I came to realize how attached I had become to them and their stories I think were the book falls short is in the sad fact that the humor isn t as funny as it thinks it is and I think the themes could have been expanded on a little .
Overall, a well written and bizarre but very fun odyssey of a book.