Gospel Prism by Gerald Weaver

Gospel Prism is a novel whose preface and afterword proclaim the author – in so much as the novel allows for any form of author, the book having been read and rewritten and translated even before the author experiences the events he narrates – to be an educated man named Christian, incarcerated for an undisclosed crime in a low-security prison.

Christian is visited by Christ, a beautiful woman of mixed ethnicity whose identity is made manifest to Christian by the simple fact that she is not a prostitute.

The novel that develops from this visit, not described in full until the second chapter, is a series of twelve revelations that delve into Christian’s experience in prison and beyond.

Gospel Prism is delightful because it plays with language and literature in a way that embraces, respects and gambols with religious texts, the canon, history, philosophy, politics and modern celebrity culture. If you were to gaze out of a window and imagine what kind of book might be written in the wake of modernism (which still looms large to my mind), this is the sort of book you would imagine: even at its most anarchic the tethers of words and narrative cast rye nets of safety that force remembrance of the human experience as learned through the great stories of our past. Think Ovid and Bunyan mixed with Joyce, Carter, Vonnegut and Douglas Coupland.

Funny, at times difficult and confusing, purposefully crack-pot and conflicted, Gospel Prism is a joyful romp through many reflections upon human nature, overtly religious or otherwise. It’s the kind of book you want to read again.

Next week I’m reading Black Swan Green by David Mitchell.

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