Happy almost Valentine’s day! This week we’re talking about books we loved and maybe even the ones that started it all for us. Well, I’ve already talked about my childhood obsession with Anne with an ‘e’, and just last week spoke about my love for THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, but honestly, I can’t remember if there was a book that started it all for me. I’ve always been a reader, like my mom (thanks, Mom!) and can’t pinpoint a book that made me jump up and exclaim, “THAT’S IT! I WILL WRITE BECAUSE OF THIS BOOK! MARK MY WORDS!”
So instead of telling you about a book that started it all, I’m going to tell you about a book that was a major turning point for me. It completely changed how I think about my writing and my audience.
I stumbled upon this at the bookstore in the mall across the street from my day job office. I was on lunch and was just browsing the shelves, looking for something new. Well look at that cover—would that not jump out at you? Because yeah, it sure jumped out at me. Who could not smile and pick it up based on the title alone.
Little did I know that book would change my life.
I know what you’re thinking—but Joanne, you’re JEWISH! Why would you read a book about Jesus? And how did it change your life? Did you…er…find Jesus through that book with the ridiculously funny title?
Well, no. But I bought that book with the ridiculously funny title and I took it home and read it. And I laughed. Boy, did I laugh. But then I started thinking about the story and the controversy this book could incite, but then I realized something really important. Not only was this book riotously funny, but it was warm and respectful, too. There are very serious parts to the story (I think its safe to say that most people know the major plot points, or at least how it ends, right?) and as I got deeper into the book, I wondered how Moore was going to handle it without being a complete downer, but at the same time respectful to people of faith. You know what? He did it perfectly. Now, I haven’t read the book recently and loaned out my copy to never have it returned, so I can’t tell you exactly what he did at the end to wrap things up so well, but even now, I remember very distinctly that I closed the book with HUGE respect for the writer. He did an amazing thing; he wrote a respectful, yet heart-warming and HILARIOUS book.
And that’s when I realized it’s possible to write a very funny book and it doesn’t have to be ridiculous, even if some of the scenes are. It can be uproariously funny, but well written at the same time. Writing funny is a real skill.
Let me say that again: Writing funny is a real skill.
Huh. See? That’s what really did it for me. I can write funny. Some might say it’s my forte, but until I read LAMB, I didn’t see it as a real skill to be admired. I didn’t see where humor was something to really embrace and be proud of being able to write. Now I get it, because I was on the other side of the pages—I was a reader who thoroughly enjoyed a book because of its humor. And humor can be an amazing thing. Who doesn’t love to laugh? Who doesn’t love a good joke? It’s life’s funny moments that balance out the challenges, the trials and tribulations we all face every day.
It’s a pretty admirable thing to make people laugh, I think. And if I can be a writer who can make people laugh and smile and close a book and say, “Wow, that was a funny book. I really enjoyed that,” I’ll be a very happy writer indeed.
And because I can’t help but share this, here’s the description of LAMB, from Barnes & Noble:
“The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years – except Biff.” “Ever since the day when he came upon six-year-old Joshua of Nazareth resurrecting lizards in the village square, Levi bar Alphaeus, called “Biff,” had the distinction of being the Messiah’s best bud. That’s why the angel Raziel has resurrected Biff from the dust of Jerusalem and brought him to America to write a new gospel, one that tells the real, untold story. Meanwhile, Raziel will order pizza, watch the WWF on TV, and aspire to become Spider-Man.” Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes – whose considerable charms fall to Biff to sample, since Josh is forbidden the pleasures of the flesh. (There are worse things than having a best friend who is chaste and a chick magnet!) And, of course, there is danger at every turn, since a young man struggling to understand his godhood, who is incapable of violence or telling anything less than the truth, is certain to piss some people off. Luckily, Biff is a whiz at lying and cheating – which helps get his divine pal and him out of more than one jam. And while Josh’s great deeds and mission of peace will ultimately change the world, Biff is no slouch himself, blessing humanity with enduring contributions of his own, like sarcasm and cafe latte. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior’s pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there’s no one who loves Josh more – except maybe “Maggie,” Mary of Magdala – and Biff isn’t about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.
Seriously – don’t you totally want to read that?