by Robert G Brown, fantasy (2007)
Lulu, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-4303-2245-0
Alas, it was Allah's will that I would be caught almost immediately by the surviving Freedom Fighters (whoever they might have been, as it is difficult to know who fights whom in this War) who had set the trap. As I was Naked (and hence clearly Irresistible by the standards of Islam that confine all women to live unseen by Men lest those men go Out of Control) they proceeded to rape me and beat me, in spite of my bruises and protestations of Faith in Allah.
No sooner had they tired of me when a second group of fighters appeared who slaughtered the ones who had raped me and took me from them as the spoils of war. I was subjected to Rape a second time, on the principle that I must be a Harlot of the soldiers of the Other Side.
An hour later (at least they were very quick about it) as I was staggering away from the accursed place, the Americans finally arrived with their jets and armored cars and fell upon this group in a rage. They efficiently Massacred every living thing but myself. However as they were accompanied by Woman Soldiers they forbore to Rape me further (for which I was very grateful) and after being questioned and threatened with prison I was released to limp home. They were even kind enough to lend me a jacket and such loose cloth as they had so I could cover my nakedness, but of course it wasn't proper garb for a good Muslim Girl and left my legs from the knees down exposed. Consequently I was Raped and otherwise manhandled a dozen more times before I made it home by goat herders and camel merchants and other Good Muslim Men.
Unfortunately, my father was a Good Muslim Man as well, and seeing me dressed in such an outfit, half naked and obviously no longer a virgin he beat me soundly and cast me out into the street. Fortunately my mother saw all that transpired between my father and myself and heard my piteous Pleas of Innocence and Faith as I was being beaten; she took it upon herself to risk my father's wrath by making me a bundle of clothing (including a fresh burka) and a few containers of food and a bit of money. After my father stormed off to the nearby tea-house to drink with his righteous friends (several of whom had Raped me while I was making my way home) she crept out and pressed this bundle into my hands.
Rape is not funny in any way, but... this? Bwahahahahaha. Wait, is the author serious?
The Book Of Lilith begins with the author claiming to have received an email, part of which is highlighted above. He isn't sure whether he should believe the email, but the attachment that comes with the email seems to be genuine. After getting it verified, the author believes that he has found the original writings of Lilith, the first woman created by God only to be then given the boot when she doesn't let Adam be on top of her while having sex. Lilith eventually becomes a demon, but nowadays she's held up as a feminist icon. Where do you think the Lilith Fair gets its name from? Mr Brown tries his hand at telling Lilith's story here, from her creation by God to her fall-out with Adam to Adam groveling to be allowed back into her good graces to her final days when she can finally expire in triumph after everyone that matters has acknowledged that she is right all along and they are all bloody wankers for being so stupid not to see it. Just keep Andrew Lloyd Webber from the musical adaptation of this story. I don't trust him after seeing how he vomited all his issues with his ex-wife onto the woman-hating monstrosity that is Evita.
The melodramatic email should have alerted me of this, but the subsequent chapters drive home the obvious: this is not a sober story in the vein of Anne Rice's Jesus-and-Lestat stories. This is a tongue-in-cheek humorous story where God celebrates Lilith's creation by having sushi, bouillabaisse, chocolate mousse, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The dialogs are full of modern jargon and contains a brand of flippancy one would expect from a book by David Eddings rather than Anne Rice. However, the feminist undercurrents of the story is clear and unmistakable despite the satirical sense of humor permeating the story.
Lilith, in this story, is God's first human with soul. In fact, she embodies a part of the Creator which is female, or Inanna. Adam, needless to say, is just second fiddle in the scheme of Creation and he is not happy. As Lilith sets up a happy home in Eden, Adam becomes increasingly irritated over the fact that he's not always right and Lilith seems to know more about things that he does, which results in plenty of friction in paradise. This also drives a wedge into the relationship between the kids Cain and Abel, although in this instance Cain is actually the misunderstood loyal son of Lilith while Abel is... well, let's just say he's a dummy who unfortunately gets to run away with his father's brand of chauvinism and causes a lot of trouble in the process.
The Book Of Lilith is a painless read, although I detect some glaring errors in the prose now and then. But the author for a long time is applying his brand of flippant humor here that sometimes there is a noticeable discordance between the tone of the writing and the situation in a particular scene. Lilith isn't always a happy person here as she receives much abuse from her husband and her children, but the tone of the writing prevents me from being moved by these scenes. The author doesn't succeed in varying the tone of his writing enough to evoke any emotion in me other than mild amusements at some of the more deliberately humorous anachronistic scenes in this story. Even in the last few chapters which is supposed to move me into feeling some degree of sadness for Lilith, I remain unmoved even when I have Art Garfunkel's Bright Eyes playing in the background.
Still, this one has its charms, particularly as an unapologetically feminist interpretation of the myth of a previously maligned figure in Biblical canon that has in recent times become a positive icon for the feminist movement. I don't have a problem with the story, it's the author's writing that strikes me as the issue here. I am often confused by what the author is trying to convey to me in a particular scene - most of the time I get confused as to whether the author is deliberately trying to be funny or he is just unintentionally funny. See the paragraphs I have highlighted above. I find it odd that a feminist-slanted story would depict rape in such a manner if the campy badness of these paragraphs is intentional, for example. On the other hand, I will really feel embarrassed for the author if he's not being deliberately funny because oh my, that is really bad indeed. Is this book sometimes being deliberately bad to amuse me or is it being bad because the author's inexperience is showing? I can't really tell. Normally it should be obvious when the author is aiming for parody, but the uneven writing in this story makes such recognition on my part difficult.
The Book Of Lilith has me amused at places, but unfortunately the very unpolished quality of the writing prevents the story from truly coming to life where I am concerned.
This book at Amazon.com
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