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The Book Against God [Paperback]

James Wood
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
Price: 8.03 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 April 2004

Thomas Bunting, charming, chaotic, and deeply untruthful, is in despair. His marriage is disintegrating, and his academic career is in ruins: instead of completing his philosophy PhD, he is secretly writing what he hopes will be his masterwork, a vast atheistic project he has privately entitled 'The Book Against God'.

But when his father is suddenly taken ill Thomas returns home, to the tiny village in the north of England where his father still works as a parish priest. Thomas hopes that he may finally be able to communicate honestly with his father, a brilliant and formidable Christian example, and sort out his wayward life. But Thomas is a chronic liar, as well as an atheist, and he finds, instead, that once at home he only falls back into the disastrous and evasive patterns of his childhood years.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (1 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099453576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099453574
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 493,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"It is written with lovely, controlled precision. His descriptions deliver little aesthetic shock-charges of pleasure...There are delights of simple recognition-but there are also deeper emotional depth-charges" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Striking...The Book Against God is a gifted and winning first novel, neatly knotted at the end" (Guardian)

"Thought-provoking and full of sharp-eyed observations of characters and places" (Daily Mail)

"At once hilarious and haunting... It keeps your attention in every sentence" (Bernard O'Donoghue Irish Times)

"A work of skilful craftsmanship, which teasingly engages and disengages one's sympathies" (The Economist)

Book Description

'Highly intelligent...This is a book that I shall certainly re-read, for its comic realism, its warm intelligence, its lack of pretension' - A. N. Wilson, Daily Telegraph

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Frustratingly Satisfying 16 July 2003
Format:Hardcover
The emerging high priest of the the new "old" school of literary criticism has put his reputation on the line with a novel of his own. And his reputation is intact. Wood tells the story of Tom Bunting, a shambolic, feckless, disorganised wannabe philosopher/writer/academic - something. A man so used to lying, that his inner musings about his own lying are quite possibly self delusional in themselves. The reader is rendered helpless to accept anything he says as any kind of truth. Except that he is in very real turmoil about his Father, and the moral and spiritual legacy of his upbringing at the hands of such a clearly "good" man. This turmoil, which is at the heart of Bunting's moral paralysis in the face of completing his PhD, squaring up to the responsibilities of his (now failed) marriage to Jane and his constant musings about religion, provide Bunting with a beating human heart. There is also a touch of "Lucky Jim" in Bunting's wry observations, his haplessness and charm inspite himself. Wood mixes a set of writing techniques that are a neatly controlled blend of the old and new - the post-modernism of the oh so unreliable narrator, and the closely observed portraiture of Eliot (Silas Marner springs to mind) or even Jane Austen. Wood is an excellent crafsman and has produced a satisfying, thoughtful and thought provoking work of fiction - even if you want to shake Bunting by the shoulders from time to time and tell him to "move on for God's sake" - but he doesn't believe in God, of course...or does he?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book about God and modern relationships 26 May 2005
Format:Paperback
'The Book Against God' is a particularly satisfying read on two levels: first, in considering arguments both for and against the existence of God, and secondly as a funny, perceptive and intelligent analysis of the relationships of a contemporary man with his wife and ageing parents. The narrator, Thomas Bunting, is a philosophy lecturer (of sorts) who manages to be endearing despite a number of character flaws including compulsive lying and suspect personal hygiene! Thomas is experiencing writer's block on the PhD thesis that he is supposed to be labouring on - but has no such problem writing secretly on his pet project, his BAG - Book Against God. (This novel is an absolute must for anybody who has ever dreaded asking or responding to the question 'How is the thesis going?')
'The Book Against God' is extremely well written with totally convincing characterisation and dialogue. A number of the central characters have a strong interest in philosophical and theological issues that Woods consequently weaves seamlessly into the narrative. The main plotline charts the souring in relations between Thomas and his pianist wife, Jane Sheridan. As an added bonus, characters such as Jane and musical know-it-all Roger Trelawnay facilitate interesting discussions regarding the nexus between music and spirituality/god. The secondary plotline concerns Thomas's relations with his loving parents Peter and Sarah, and particularly Thomas's inability to profess outright atheism to his parish priest father despite the latter's willingness to question accepted church teaching. All in all, 'The Book Against God' is highly recommended as an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and entertaining 21 Mar 2005
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The relationship between an atheistic and rather seedy son and (principally) his attractive clergyman father. Superb, inventively and wittily phrased descriptions of a large cast of characters and of places; intelligent conversations about belief and non-belief; a moving coda (not quite at the end of the book). Because the chronology is all mixed up, it really needs to be read twice.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but still disappointing 27 Feb 2005
Format:Hardcover
James Wood is a brilliant literary critic who has long shied away from writing a novel. But like every critic he secretly nurtured novelistic ambitions, and here, at last, they're realised. The title says it all: this is a book about a rather annoying postgraduate student who's supposed to be working on his doctorate but is actually wrapped up in a commonplace book in which he assails what he sees as the absurdities of Christianity - and of his devoutly Christian father. There are some very funny moments, and the novel is erudite and original, but it's also a bit irritating, and there are times when it feels a little underpowered - a lot of clever images and observations floating around in search of a real narrative. Wood has a fine mind, but he is a classic case of gamekeeper turned poacher, and the poacher seems to have found there aren't any eels in the lake.
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