Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pre-review Preamble: Anti-Christ by Matthew Moses


Welly, welly, welly, welly . . . Well.

Two Thursdays ago I received an e-mail from author Matthew Moses, asking if I was interested in featuring his novel on my blog or making a link exchange.

At the time I suspected this missive was probably an automated letter from Moses's web server, sent out to all the blogs in blogdom, with code like:

While (not {
sendEmail "Hi <$blogtitle>, I was wondering etc etc";

Still, anything that mentions my little blog, or encourages me to write more in it, even if it comes from diligent robots and refers to a novel with a disturbing title, fills me with a golden, fuzzy warmth.

Surely I will! I was going to reply enthusiastically, Although I'm not sure about your choice of title, dude.

I mentally composed a nice reply while I clicked on the link in the e-mail, which took me to the website.

Then I read the first paragraph of the synopsis which went:

Imagine God is a vegetable in a wheelchair, Jesus is the fascist CEO of a corporate Church, and a Cold War is ongoing between Heaven and Hell while America is led by a complete and utter moron whose every decision takes the world closer and closer to the brink of World War III. This is the setting for one of the most controversial novels of modern times.


The mental reply then swiftly did an about-turn into a "Nononononono, sorry!" or a I will be radio silent and he will assume the e-mail never arrived. It's OK, web server robots don't have feelings. At least, I don't think they do. Damn you, Isaac Asimov!

But then I thought, Hang on, why such a kneejerk response? I looked into myself (not one of my favourite pastimes) and wondered, Why am I so shocked? Why take it so personally when I haven't even read the first chapter?

I'm sure fundamentalists would say I shouldn't even be giving a title like that a chance. Back away! It's the devil's snare!

On the surface the answer looked like: Come on, just look at that synopsis. Will this book mock something I hold personal and close? What if it disrespects my religious beliefs?

These are beliefs that I hold and will continue to hold even though people tell me I'm being irrational and here is science, our new god who will explain everything with charts and numbers and empirical evidence. (Note: I do choose to believe in science and God, although some say they are not compatible.)

But I wanted to give Moses the benefit of the doubt, so I steeled myself and quickly read through the first three chapters. Then I decided to write back to him and see what happened.

I warned him that the review, and I use this term loosely, would consist of: my initial horror, a fair (or as fair as I could make it) “Read it and see what you think” point of view, quite a bit of rambling as I went off on a tangent regarding my own beliefs and experiences (as I usually do), and a link to his website. If he didn't mind any of that, I was certainly up for the writing challenge.

I also added that if he didn't like what I posted, well, it wasn't like I was Dooce or anyone important, so it shouldn’t affect his sales in the long run :)

Moses then sent me a nice reply (on the same day, which quite impressed me) saying that he didn't care if it was a negative or positive review, as long as it was an honest one, and also sent me an e-book copy to peruse.

So peruse it I did. Gentle readers, you will find my review in the next post.