Ladies and Gen­tle­men, The Bible!

Jonathan Gold­stein
  • Review
By – January 16, 2012

Jonathan Goldstein’s Ladies and Gen­tle­men, The Bible! does exact­ly what its title implies, pre­sent­ing famil­iar Bible sto­ries in thor­ough­ly enter­tain­ing, gen­tly humor­ous, and sly­ly mod­ern terms. Gold­stein hews close­ly to the basic plots of sto­ries star­ring fig­ures like Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Jon­ah and the Whale, but he plays fast and loose with their char­ac­ters — as well as any moral lessons to be learned. The Bible preach­es about Man and God; Gold­stein pokes around the minds of men and women. 

Goldstein’s tone is earthy and con­ver­sa­tion­al— like Kurt Von­negut, if Von­negut had not been aller­gic to God’s exis­tence. His char­ac­ters occu­py a mid­dle ground between their famil­iar actions and their new, Gold­stein-giv­en (and very con­tem­po­rary) modes of speech and thought. These Patri­archs seem human: over­come with pet­ty jeal­ousy; falling into bad habits; act­ing ornery because they think it’s best for their chil­dren — or sim­ply because it suits them. Goldstein’s book reminds us how easy it is to dis­miss the free will of the peo­ple in these sto­ries, whose actions often seem fat­ed by mil­len­nia of retelling. He reveals in them foibles and moti­va­tions, lines of thought and signs of weak­ness; in short, he con­structs whole per­son­al­i­ties we can find inter­est­ing and relat­able — and that is the book’s triumph.

Joshua Daniel Edwin was born into a fam­i­ly of incur­ably com­pul­sive read­ers in Bal­ti­more, MD. He now lives in Brook­lyn, and is a stu­dent in Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty’s MFA pro­gram in Cre­ative Writing.

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