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Twelve revelations in search of a point

11 September 2015

This novel, Alexander Lucie-Smith finds, is too tricksy by half

Gospel Prism
Gerald Weaver
London Wall Publishing £11.99
Church Times Bookshop (Use code CT611)


IMAGINE that the book you are reading is not “a book”. It is, for a start, still being written by the narrator. Moreover, the people in the book know that they are in the book, and quite often upbraid the narrator for the way he is portraying them. And, at the end of the book, there is another book that the narrator finds, which contains all knowledge, and which tells him how the people in this book will end up.

If you can picture this, then you are some way to understanding Gospel Prism, a novel like no other. The mavens of post-modernism may well be at home with all this; the general reader may find in this a clever tricksiness at best.

The author, in speaking of memory, says: “It is like a jazz sound track in my mind, desultory and evocative, with no discernible plotline, loaded with self-indulgent feeling, with each small section containing its own story and with an occasional heightened and intense and unforgettable fragment. . .” This describes the book, too.

Christian is in jail in a minimum-security facility in Kentucky. One night, Jesus, a black beautiful woman who looks like Halle Berry, comes to speak to him in his cell, and promises him 12 revelations. These revelations are the 12 sections of the book, and are more or less free-standing.

Not all of them hit the right spot. Two are Mafia stories of the sort Jeffrey Archer might have written, and quite engrossing. Another is a trip to a modern Dante’s Inferno, where it is good to meet both Bill Clinton and Woody Allen. The rest rather resemble the sort of stuff that you would expect from the pen of a talented sixth-former, and some of it is so badly written as to be excruciatingly tedious.

As for the divine revelations, these are all on the level of “The true study of the divine is the study of ourselves, and we must understand ourselves first and best. Uncertainty is one of our truly divine hallmarks. . . ” You don’t say!

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