Last night I finished James Frey’s recent release, “The Final Testament of the Holy Bible”. I first met James while I was reading his second book, “My Friend Leonard”, which I loved (I also loved “A Million Little Pieces” and “Bright Shiny Morning”. We’re neighbors, which I was thrilled about. I would rather be neighbors with a great writer than a great painter or dancer… but probably not a movie star or rock idol.
I didn’t love “The Final Testament of the Holy Bible”.
Based on the subject matter, I was not jonesing to read it, but I bought it in pre-sale anyway, because I love his writing so much. At first I was happily surprised. His character development was quite interesting, and I was pleasantly entertained for about the first fifth of the book.
Then I got pretty bored. The writing is extremely dense, and there’s a ton of biblical stuff which I really didn’t enjoy. There is a “point” to the book, which I took to be that love is all that really matters in the world, and that any sort of structured religion is just a complete and total waste of time. The bible and other religious writings are antiquated and no longer relevant, and we, as humans, have ruined the world. Only love can save us. Materialism doesn’t matter. Our sexual proclivities are irrelevant. We should love and be loved by everyone, regardless of race, orientation, religion, social class, appearance, and so on and so on.
Ben, the “Messiah”, is a filthy scarred man who exudes love and hope everywhere he goes, yet most of his life he has been physically and emotionally tormented and misunderstood. When he emerges as the new Messiah he spreads some happiness, but not nearly enough to make the misery that he has endured worthwhile.
The last part of the book picked up a bit in the amusement department, but overall I was quite disappointed. I commend James Frey for writing this book, which is so completely irreverent, and quite different in style from his other books, but I hope that he will go back to a lighter topic the next time he sits down with pen in hand.
I give it a very lukewarm one thumb sideways.