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the bloody onslaught. The final bar- written a novel that bridges the lit- of Zebedee, brother of James) and a rage crowns a section of the novel erary gap between time and the time- handful of his disciples have been that, once embarked upon, cannot be less. His latest work, John: A Novel, exiled by the Roman Emperor Nerva. put down. is a stunning revelation that “God is Christianity finds itself in reduced Marked by meticulous atten- both ‘enclosed’ within the mystical circumstances, its more vociferous tion to detail and built upon an esca- soul, and he is the ‘enclosure’ that advocates decorating the various Ro- lation of spiritual, economic, and the mystic enters spiritually.” man roadways throughout the em- mortal wounds mitigated by bold “The question came to me out pire, and its teachings competing strokes, the book hums with faith, of the blue,” the author writes. with a plethora of demonic distor- hope, optimism, and respect for life “What was John doing the day before tions. while thoroughly shredding the he wrote the gospel?” Williams’s an- John’s disciples wait. He has cloak of relativism that blights proper swer has produced arguably the most not preached in a long time, he is determinations of good and evil. In important novel since Flannery blind and crippled with great age, the 1960s The Blood-Red Crescent O’Connor painfully scribbled her cared for by the devoted Papias, his turned up the volume on a malevo- “grotesqueries” on the front porch at “Revelation” long since recorded by lent Eastern echo that seemed Andalusia. the scribe Prochorus. Their faith has slightly out of range. Its signal now The book is both stark and ex- defaulted into the promised return of is a full-blown siren. plicit, reminiscent of Hemingway in Jesus Christ, and He has not ap- high dudgeon, and presents its story peared. One of John’s younger fol- Mary McWay Seaman in what French critics describe as a lowers, Matthias, begins the Gnostic mise en abime, a “casting into the heresy: “The Son of God would not abyss…successive, perhaps concen- play with children, would not learn tric, layers of space as analogous to the trade of carpentry. For what?… John: A Novel. By Niall Williams. the various strata of experience that The truth is, Jesus was as you or I.” Bloomsbury USA. 288 pages. are constitutive of mystical space.” Williams has set his story at a $24.95. The story begins on the bleak time when the phenomenon of the and barren isle of Patmos where the “Christ event” is neither doctrine nor Irish writer Niall Williams has now ancient John the Apostle (son dogma, but rather an accounting of a recent experience, when reality is understood in the “fullness of Pas- sion and resurrection.” John is the living testament, the last of the dis- NOR Boosters
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