GENESIS OF THE DEAD: A Book REview
It’s odd to fault a book for hewing too closely to the biblical narrative it seeks to follow, even odder to do so when the author has populated his narrative with hand puppets, giant squirrels, and angels reimagined as cowboy-impersonators. But GENESIS OF THE DEAD, by C.T. Casberg, manages to lose points because it is too much like the Bible and not enough like itself.
Casberg begins his retelling of Genesis (and a good chunk of Exodus) with a very imaginative reworking of the Fall of Man set in a futuristic city and featuring a likeable Adamic figure in Todd, the janitor, who eats of the forbidden fruit and plunges all mankind (of which there is a good deal) into undeadness as a result. The reader is then treated to Casberg-ified versions of the Flood, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and so on, until Fetch/Moses arrives and leads the people out of the Straits/Egypt.
Spoiler alert, I suppose.
But to tell you how the story progresses isn’t really a spoiler since, narrative-wise, Casberg sticks as closely to the pattern of Biblical events as possible when duct-tape and air-guitars are involved. The fun in reading the book is the humor, which is plenteous and varied. Casberg inundates his books with pop-culture references, dry, off-hand remarks, and a plethora of random jokes and scenarios. Whatever your brand of humor, you’re bound to find at least a couple jokes per chapter that resonate (I usually found more than that).
Where Casberg struggles is in the fusing of the book’s many parts into a cohesive whole. His humor is good, his descriptions of places and events are vivid, but the book struggles to keep the reader’s attention for any amount of time, despite how enjoyable it often is. Casberg may have attempted too much in trying to novelize such a large swath of Scripture, and the device used to try and weld multiple stories into one narrative isn’t strong enough to support the weight.
I, perhaps more than is healthy, really enjoyed Casberg’s humor and the overall tone he set for the stories, though it was a little jolting at times to transition from unfiltered slapstick to deep, theological exposition. Casberg handles both aspects well enough, they simply do not mix very easily. I don’t know if Casberg intends to pen a sequel to GENESIS OF THE DEAD, nor do I know if I would be inclined to seek it out if such a sequel were to exist. I would, however, be intrigued to see Casberg try his hand at shorter works of humor, such as skits, short stories, even an online comic strip if he could partner with a suitable illustrator, and I will continue to follow his online theological musings over at conciliarpost.com and his assorted other musings at ctcasberg.com.