L.S. Klepp
May 16, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Gospel According to the Son

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Norman Mailer
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B

The critics haven’t gone so far as to suggest crucifixion as the appropriate punishment for Norman Mailer, now that he’s written a novel that might as well be called The Memoirs of Jesus Christ. That, no doubt, would be playing right into the author’s hands. But they have been scourging him for his temerity. Yet the only shocking thing about The Gosepl According to the Son is its failure to shock; other writers have given us far more radically reimagined Jesuses. Mailer has left the framework of the Gospel accounts intact and filled it in with the subdued, rueful reflections of a very human, tentative, sensitive, hesitant Son of Man. Gospel is a book that’s bolder in conception than execution, but it’s not, as the critics imply, disastrous or blasphemous. It’s nearly innocuous. It’s Mailer, for once, being a little too good for his own good. B

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