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Adrian

Michel Faber
The Fire Gospel - General Discussion

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Like Dalton in Road House, I thought this book would have been...bigger. It's barely 200 pages long and double spaced, and I would have thought the story of a newly discovered fifth gospel would have needed a lot more pages.

Book synopsis here so I needn't bore you with detail.

There's a humorous passage about the author's name being misspelled, no doubt something Michael himself has endured. There's also a great part where Theo reads the Amazon reviews of the book he writes after 'discovering' the original papyrus scrolls.

Theologically, I didn't get too much from it. It seems like Jesus was an actual person who existed at the time, but the book didn't really spur me to think deeply about religion or Jesus. It is of course quite possible that I missed a lot of stuff, something I probably did with one of Faber's previous books, The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps.

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Adrian, since this is the next Canongate Read I've put your thread in here so that all discussion of the book is in the same place.

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Adrian, since this is the next Canongate Read I've put your thread in here so that all discussion of the book is in the same place.

That's fine David. Wasn't sure whether to start a thread after reading it when I saw that it was the next Canongate read (though my copy was actually published by Text Publishing in Oz).

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I wrote up my review of The Fire Gospel yesterday and it's scheduled to appear on my blog at some point. I will say that, of all the authors to contribute to the Canongate Myths series, Faber is the only one, so far, that I appreciate. Atwood and Winterson never did much for me, although the Ali Smith book pleasantly surprised me.

 

So, being a Faber fan, I guess there was a higher expectation going into it. Not much higher, mind: it's a series that seems to enforce restrictions on authors'. Length, say. Overall, it's good to see Faber in full on satirical mode, sending up publishing, vacuous television, and a dumbed down society. The centrepiece, of ventriloquising an array of Amazon reviews, is a master stroke. However, come the Promethean punishment, I was left unconvinced: Griepenkerl was a tad loathsome, as characters go, and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to feel his pain.

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Stewart mentioned 'full satirical mode' and yes, this really worked for me. I, too, thought one of the best sections was the 'Amazon reviews' and could imagine many real life authors half reluctantly, half compulsively surfing through the site.

 

I didn't expect the novel to make me think deeply about Jesus or religion, just as I don't think it was one of Dan Brown's aims either.

 

The book did tail off towards the end but it was good to see Michael Faber have a stab at a completely different genre of writing.

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The book did tail off towards the end but it was good to see Michael Faber have a stab at a completely different genre of writing.

One of the many things I like about Faber is that each book is so different from any of his others.

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Stewart mentioned 'full satirical mode' and yes, this really worked for me. I, too, thought one of the best sections was the 'Amazon reviews' and could imagine many real life authors half reluctantly, half compulsively surfing through the site.

 

No need to imagine... it's true! Heehee.

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Loving Faber's writing, I too had high expectations but was prepared to be let down. In fact, I don't think I was let down. Given the constraints of this series I think this was handled well.

 

There are a great many layers in this book. Whilst reading I was in fact reminded of On Chesil Beach simply for its brevity and depth of meaning. I worked on the premise that this book mirrored that produced by Theo Griepenkerl (under his psuedonym of Grippin), since the translations were included in part, and could see that as part of the humour of producing this series.

 

I too loved the Amazon reviews in the chapter, Judges - very droll I thought. There were other parts I enjoyed but didn't think I would; the conversations during his capture, including the television he could hear but not see, which I found an interesting reflection of life. I loved the Interlude: A Prophecy chapter. In such a short piece so much is shown of Meredith's new life with such irony.

 

There's a humorous passage about the author's name being misspelled, no doubt something Michael himself has endured
Obviously! ;) And I see Chuntzy managed to as well - perhaps on purpose! ;) I have to say it is so very easy to mistype Michel - especially when you have that name in the family as I do. I like to think he included that just because it's something that bugs him.

 

Overall, I have to say I enjoyed the read. So far Michel Faber has not disappointed me. Yes, it may be a slim volume, but I think I will read it a second time - I'm sure I missed a lot.

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There's a humorous passage about the author's name being misspelled, no doubt something Michael himself has endured

Obviously! And I see Chuntzy managed to as well - perhaps on purpose! I have to say it is so very easy to mistype Michel - especially when you have that name in the family as I do. I like to think he included that just because it's something that bugs him.

Mine was definitely on purpose, inspired by the 'hilarious' fun in the Apple thread

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There's plenty to think about in this little book, I'm finding it hard to organise my thoughts.

 

To start with, Griepenkerl's motivation for writing the book in the first place was fame and fortune. Then later on there is mention of Judas - can we draw parallels between the two?

 

The recent Sachs/Brand/Ross incident came to mind as I read the mounting outrage and reaction to the book after the publication, especially as some of the Amazon reviews (a brilliant chapter!) were along the lines of "I haven't read this, but...". The real Amazon product description for the book summarises it as "a pacy book-world satire", is that how others would describe this book? I hadn't thought of it as a comment on publishing, more about society, celebrity, mass-hysteria even.

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Sitting on a train, bored, so thought I'd add that Theo's name obviously comes from the artist Christian Griepenkerl, even if the Theo part hints at a god (or Titan) rather than blind believer.

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It is a few days since my initial reactions to this book and I am left with one huge vision from my reading - that of Theo tied to the chair by his captors. The way he describes his arms being pulled away from his body, his legs also, and the pain and discomfort that ensues, mirrors Jesus on the cross. Even the wound in his side echos the four gospel stories. As does the bladder and bowel problems that echo Theo's translation of Malchus. Probably very obvious to everyone else, but it took a day or two to filter through to my brain.

 

But at the end Theo is set free, back into the world, unlike Jesus. Or is he? Very enigmatic - I like that.

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I finished this book last week but it's taken me this long to work out what I thought of it. And.......

 

I liked it !I have to admit to having to start the book again after reading the first chapter or so but I think that was more down to the noise on the train rather than not being drawn in. That saying when I did restart the book it sucked me in and I finished it in more or less one sitting.

 

I have only read one other of Faber's books and I'm amazed at how completely different The Crimson Petal and the White is to The Fire Gospel. It has certainly made me want to read a third.

 

Like those before me I loved the tongue in cheek Amazon reviews - how true they were, the grammar and spelling mistakes made me smile. I wonder if Faber read the Amazon reviews of his own books for inspiration.

 

I think the book picked up for me at the moment the gun was pulled on the author - from that moment I didn't put the book down. It didn't take me long to read it but I think being short was part of its attraction.

 

Not a thought provoking book in my opinion but immensely enjoyable and would recommend it.

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I really would like to commend Cannongate Books, not only supplying the books, but for the variety of the choices. Each one is very different, and yet challanging in its own way.

The Fire Gospel

An easier read ,perhaps, compared to Gargoyle and certainly to Under Control.

..and shorter too, (especially compared to TCPATW) but none the worse for that.

Echo the above comments re Amazon reviews etc

 

Great choice, Cannongate keep them coming!! :yup:

 

(please!!)

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I read this in a couple of days. I thought it was a bit slow to start but enjoyed the story once the book was published and Theo started on his book. I thought the descriptions of an how Theo felt about his book were very well done and like everyone else I enjoyed the Amazon reviews. I missed the crucifiction analogy, so thanks Barblue.

 

I don't think there was anything particularly contentious in Malchus's letters (rather than Gospel) apart from the whole concept of this being included in the Canongate Myths series.

 

Not bad and so much better than "The Crimson Petal and the White."

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I also thought this was an easy read - easy doesn't necessarily say without any background. I loved the story and the writing. This was my first book by the author and it certainly will not be the last.

I didn't expect the novel to make me think deeply about Jesus or religion, just as I don't think it was one of Dan Brown's aims either.
I didn't think about religion in this book either. I mean, anyone can come up with something ancient that was found just recently and thereby try to go back in time. There are enough "fifth gospels" already and we can discuss about whether the ones that did make it into the bible should have been the ones or not. But that is not the point in this book.

I enjoyed reading it. And, yes, the amazon reviews were hilarious.

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I thought that this was an okay, funny read, some bits of it I reallly enjoyed - the amazon reviews and his capture but I wasn't particuarly bothered by the main character or what happened to him. I think to appreciate the novel you need to know more about Christianity than I do, I know I missed lots of things just from reading your reviews.

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I was quite disappointed with this - it held real promise since it was based on mythology, but I felt abit like it was rushed and could have held more depth and more realism. The kidnap was glossed over, no read feeling in it much like the discovery and the book tour

 

I think on a whole that the concepts of this whole collection of books was a great idea, but having read the peneolpaid too I just don't think it was done well enough to really bring to life the idea as stories.

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Having just re-read this book and all our reviews, I realise why I like Michel Faber's writing so much.  There is so much depth to this book and it's brevity accentuates that depth for me.  Having read The Fahrenheit Twins, I feel Faber is a master of the shorter story.  And then he writes The Crimson Petal and the White which is huge!  An amazing writer for me. I am now about to embark on The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps and The Courage Consort. 

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