John: A Novel by ProQuest

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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-
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