God Knows, many people would be offended by this book. God knows, any work of art worthy of any consideration, is greeted with outrage and effrontery as it upends everyone’s “comfortable values” and challenges the senses on multiple levels. I have not laughed so hard for many a day. God knows, people on the commuter train, in my office, even in the bathroom, were wondering what the heck was giving me so much fun.
Joseph Heller has taken a serious knowledge of the Old Testament, combined it with artifacts of history, art, music, and the lot of the modern Jewish boy, and produced a firsthand account of the life of David. He brings the characters alive, put flesh on their bones, color in their cheeks, and adds here and there a few blemishes, pot bellies, whines and cheese. The descriptions of Michal as the original Jewish American Princess and Abishag as so beauteous, patient kind, and insecure, really bring them to life. The descriptions of Saul’s melancholia and paranoia, and how David followed him down that same road in his later years, give an exquisite picture of what it really must mean to make it to the top of the heap in this world.
If you are the sort of person who revels in the discovery of a new word such as “assherd” to add to your regular usage, then I thoroughly recommend you check this out. Or, if you would like to review the stories that you learned in vacation bible school, told in such a way that the boys might escape to the john to read it amongst themselves, well, you know what to do. If you want to learn the extent of the hebrew empire under its greatest poet and military strategist, and then consider what has happened to every single nation which rises to become a world power, then this might be a very good review for you.