Only Begotten Daughter, by James Morrow
I needed something to read on the plane, but I’m squeamish about buying books before I know I’ll love them forever. Then, like a bolt from the blue, I found a bookstore with a $1 shelf, and this standing out like a weird little beacon.
The blurb on the back describes Only Begotten Daughter as what happens when a lonely lighthouse-dwelling sperm donor finds that, without an egg, his “donation” is developing into a baby. This immaculate conception yields Julie Katz, Jesus’s younger sister. She walks on water, heals the sick, visits Hell – the whole shebang.
“Great!” I thought. Probably witty, and amusingly irreverent. And yes, this book was all of that. But I didn’t count on how serious it would get. Man! Morrow is not screwing around! Julie’s world becomes dire, and Morrow makes sure that Hell isn’t the worst of it. For some of you, this may be ameliorated by the plot’s absurdity, because he takes it to some satirical extremes, most notably when New Jersey abruptly secedes into a draconian religious military regime of terror. For me, the improbability of this scenario didn’t reduce its disturbing nature. Violent zealots are scary!
Anyway, such a tumultuous, hellishly-divine bildungsroman can’t be summed up neatly, but it’s an interesting detour for sure.
The 213 in 2013 series chronicles every book I read in 2013. Each review contains exactly 213 words, because 2013 words is too long and 2013 characters is too dang short.