Customer Reviews


 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
I'm a little nervous about writing this review - one of the funniest passages in "The Fire Gospel" is when Theo Griepenkerl, first time author on a tour of the US, spends a sleepless night looking up his Amazon reviews. Some are really dotty: all read as uncomfortably authentic. Hmmm.

Griepenkerl has been launched to celebrity by - er - liberating the papyri...
Published on 21 Nov. 2008 by D. Harris

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good writing - but not very likeable characters
Fire Gospel is apparently a retelling of Prometheus. Since I am not 100% familiar with that myth, I'll give an overview of the plot here. (I know Prometheus stole fire from the gods and got punished... I tend to think he's the one whose liver is getting pecked out again and again on a mountain somewhere, but I am not entirely confident in my memories)

So, Theo,...
Published on 18 July 2010 by Federhirn


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 21 Nov. 2008
By 
D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Fire Gospel (Hardcover)
I'm a little nervous about writing this review - one of the funniest passages in "The Fire Gospel" is when Theo Griepenkerl, first time author on a tour of the US, spends a sleepless night looking up his Amazon reviews. Some are really dotty: all read as uncomfortably authentic. Hmmm.

Griepenkerl has been launched to celebrity by - er - liberating the papyri containing the lost letters of Malchus, eyewitness to the Crucifixion and translating them from the original Aramaic into English. As a result, he becomes the focus of the hopes and (especially) fears of a range of believers and unbelievers. While the book's success brings him the fame and money he wanted, all does not really go well.

Theo's progress is interleaved with extracts from Malchus's account, which in itself an inventive and unusual take on the Passion story. Inevitably, perhaps, since this is part of a series retelling myths, the two are intermingled and reflect each other. (Or so I read it. I now see from the "official" review above that this is actually meant to be a modern take on the myth of Prometheus. Really? To me it looks much, much more as though Faber has Theo undergoing his own passion, with many of the details matching - both those in the real Gospels and in the "gospel" of Malchus. And isn't the very name Theo itself rather a thundering giveaway?)

I enjoyed this immensely - be warned, it isn't a long book, but Michel Faber is an expert at (especially) short stories and short novels. I think this is one of his best so far.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good writing - but not very likeable characters, 18 July 2010
By 
This review is from: The Fire Gospel (Myths) (Paperback)
Fire Gospel is apparently a retelling of Prometheus. Since I am not 100% familiar with that myth, I'll give an overview of the plot here. (I know Prometheus stole fire from the gods and got punished... I tend to think he's the one whose liver is getting pecked out again and again on a mountain somewhere, but I am not entirely confident in my memories)

So, Theo, a Canadian, somewhat whingy archeologist, finds himself in Iraq trying to convince the local museums to give up their treasures and hand them over to Canadian museums for "protection", in the aftermath of the war and the looting. A bomb explodes, and a statue falls apart, and Theo discovers some scrolls in Aramaic, which, as he is one of the best translators of Aramaic in the world, he feels entitled to steal in the aftermath of the explosion, smuggle to America, and translate. It turns out they were written by a deciphel of Jesus Christ, before any of the four canonic gospels...

This is a fairly short book. Theo is not a very likeable guy. His girlfriend is even less likeable. Other characters make single, brief appearances - due to the short length of the book, virtually no character has more than one scene with Theo. The overall effect is that the reader is stuck with a bit of an annoying, egocentric git.

On the bright side, the writing is excellent and witty. A single throwaway comment (about stewardesses performing symbolic safety dances) stuck especially in my mind - partially because I was reading the book in an airport and a plane, and watching the very thing the writer was writing about - but also because it was richly observational and, in my opinion, funny. While the story may be a bit unrealistic, and the characters a bit annoying, the writing was excellent throughout, and the characters always seemed believable.

On the whole, a rewarding, if brief read - and I just wished there had been a bit more of it. It was too short, and too rushed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent , if a little on the slim side, 13 Jan. 2012
This review is from: The Fire Gospel (Myths) (Paperback)
Since reading Under The Skin a couple of years ago, I've loved Michel Faber. That book was one of the most shocking, unexpected and harrowing books I'd read for a long time - and still is - so I'm always excited at the prospect of reading a new Faber.

The The Fire Gospel is a slight book, just a couple of hundred pages, unlike the epic and excellent The Crimson Petal and The White , but he crams in some pretty big ideas, a bit of humour and a pretty damning commentary on 21st century religion.

The book opens with academic Theo Griepenkerl, an expert in ancient Aramaic, in Iraq, exploiting the chaos of the Iraqi occupation and trying to gather up as many antiquities as he can for his Canadian Museum employer.

After an explosion knocks our overweight, middle aged and slightly bumbling Theo to the ground, a statue is smashed, and Theo finds a roll of papyrus that was sealed inside. He hides them away and returns to Canada, the scrolls burning a hole in his briefcase, where he sets about translating them. As he translates, he realises he has found the memoirs of one of Jesus' contemporaries, a foul mouthed and at times incoherent man called Malchus.

The more he translates, the more he is convinced he is sitting on a gold mine, believing his translation could be a publishing phenomenon, despite being only 30 pages long. A new gospel, written at the time of Jesus' death, not some 40-60 years after his crucifixion. Theo rubs his hands with glee and set about writing the book. His determination to make money blinkers him to the potential consequences such a book could have on the world. But Theo ploughs on regardless. And it causes a few ripples, not least because of the description of Jesus begging to die while being crucified, among other sections that challenge the belief system of the church.

There are hilarious touches as Faber's minimalist prose describes Theo's bumbling journey from anonymous academic to Public Enemy Number One, not least his struggle to get published in the first place.(There are some great attacks on the publishing industry here). When he finally gets it printed, he starts a wave of outrage, religious zeal and daytime television debate that makes him squirm and panic, as it dawns on him what he has done - and it's fun to track Theo as he stumbles through a series of embarrassing events, leading to an unexpected final act.

Faber's caustic humour and satirical bent bring funny and poignant messages on the role of religion and commercialism in modern society, making this an easy to read and fun little novel. But at only 208 pages, you're left feeling a little under-fed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A darkly comic short novel, 8 Jan. 2014
By 
John M "John M" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Fire Gospel (Myths) (Paperback)
This is a short novel (probably about 35,000-40,000 words) which follows Theo, a Canadian academic expert in Aramaic, as he unexpectedly discovers a series of papyrus scrolls in a Baghdad museum which were originally written by Malchus, the servant of the High Priest Caiaphus, who arrested Christ in the Garden of Gethsemene and has his ear cut off by the apostle Peter. Malchus is subsequently converted as a follower of Christ, and in the scrolls describes the crucifiction and events following. Theo steals the ancient scrolls, smuggles them back to Canada, and subsequently translates and has them published as 'The Fifth Gospel'. It is a modern re-working of the Prometheus story in the Canongate 'Myths' series.

Michael Faber's telling of the story and demise of Theo is written with a dark and razor sharp wit. He punctures the ego of the self-obsessed academic, religious fanatics, and even manages to brilliantly satirise Amazon book-reviewers! So be-warned. Malchus' account of The Passion is in parts stunningly and comically banal, but simultaneously irreverent and sure to displease the Christian community in the same manner as 'The Life of Brian' and 'The Last Temptation'.
A must for connoisseurs of black comedy, but not to everyone's taste!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hugely entertaining satire, 10 Jan. 2009
By 
C. J. Hendry - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Fire Gospel (Hardcover)
Whilst not quite up there with the intense and haunting Under The Skin, 'The Fire Gospel' highlights Faber's magnificently light prose. Its cynical humour is clear from its opening pages, when our hero Theo is caught up in a terrorist's bomb blast in an Iraqi museum. Fire, literally and metaphorically, pursues him throughout the rest of the plot, as he comes to realise just how inflammatory the ancient papyrus scrolls' content actually is. As an atheist, he starts out by thinking solely of worldly pleasures - fame, money and sex - and as a result neglects to consider how his publication of a shocking new eye-witness account of Christ's death will be received.

'The Fire Gospel' is very clearly inspired by the Prometheus myth, but what makes it work on a number of levels is the way that Faber combines that myth's universal themes of hubris, greed, irresponsibility and regret with some really sharp observations of the absurdities of the modern world. The publishing industry, Amazon, and some delightfully Loony-Tune religious and political beliefs are all subjects of his razor-sharp satire. He even manages to be genuinely shocking by making Malchus's sometimes visceral and scatological account of Jesus's death seem sadly realistic.

A genuine page-turner - I consumed it in a couple of hours. There's actually not very much of it - itself a bit of an in-joke. Read it and see! Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Fire Gospel, 7 Oct. 2012
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Theo - a Canadian academic - comes close to losing his life when visiting a museum in Iraq which is bombed. He finds some miraculously well preserved scrolls in the wreckage written in Aramaic from the time of Christ and takes them with him back to Canada. He realises when he starts to translate the scrolls that he has discovered something of vital importance - the fifth gospel written by an eye witness to the death of Christ on the cross.

Theo manages to land a lucrative publishing deal and finds, as many have done before him, that fame and wealth have their downside. If you can untangle the symbolism and the mixture of myth (Prometheus) and religion (Christianity) this is an interesting short book. Theo's kidnapping by two religious fanatics I found somewhat unconvincing and some of the unpleasant detail in that episode served to detract from the whole book in my opinion.

I suspect that the book needs more than one reading to appreciate all its subtleties but I did not find the main character, Theo, sufficiently likeable to want to read it a second time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars short, yes, but enjoyable reading none the less!, 1 Oct. 2009
This review is from: The Fire Gospel (Myths) (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book, despite (or perhaps because) of it's limited length. It seems to be the rage nowadays for authors to commit five hundred page tomes to the ever groaning bookshelves of their loyal readers, however sometimes it's nice just to read something that can be completed in a few days of the busy reader's time, but still be considered worthwhile, in a literary sense. 'The Fire Gospel' fulfills these criteria, and is a fast-paced read all at the same time. Highly enjoyable.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars clever thought provoking book, 1 Jan. 2013
This review is from: The Fire Gospel (Myths) (Paperback)
I read this book when i was on holiday last summer. Since then I have thought about it every day. The book is huge fun and very entertaining but Michel Faber manages. at the same time. to make you think about any number of things - martyrdom, truth, suffering,faith, fame, hero worship - I could go on and on -and he allows you to explore them all at every level. The book manages to be short - avoiding the 300 page trap. But it is deep as well despite being very cuttingly funny about our 'world' (for example Amazon reviews.) I am in awe of Michel Faber's brilliance. I was inspired to try the other books in the myths series but none of them could touch Faber's achievement. This is one of the best books I have ever read. Thank you Michel Faber. I am at a loss to understand why this book has missed out on critical acclaim.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars The first half is so good that the second half is a massive disappointment, 16 Jan. 2015
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In the ruins of a Baghdad Museum during the Iraq War the Canadian scholar Theo Griepenkerl finds a perfectly preserved scroll written in Aramaic by Malchus, the man who had been in the party that arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and had his ear cut off by Simon Peter. He smuggles it back to Canada, and pads out the mere 28 pages of his translation with some hundred pages of his own commentary and with the story of his discovery of the scroll. He feels he has a sensation on his hands which will make him famous, that he has found the earliest Christian document predating the Epistles and the Gospels. Apparently this Malchus had become a convert and wrote an account of Jesus and the Crucifixion which differs significantly from the four Gospels, and Theo calls it the Fifth Gospel. There are entertaining scenes as he battles with an editor to get it published and about his advance, and then of his discomfort during a publicity interview on television. Once the book is published, he does a book tour in America. Sales appear to astronomical: the book shoots up to No.74 on Amazon, and Theo eagerly peruses the varied comments of readers, a lovely and extended pastiche of the real thing.

Up to this point, about half-way through, the book has been funny, crisply written and fast-moving. But then bad things happen to Theo; and, disappointingly, the from that point inwards the novel becomes tedious, the plotting slack, many details lacking in credibility and some of them in taste also; the humour is laboured, the satire on aspects of American life (especially television) is too prolonged; there is a lot of padding out; and the ending is abrupt and unresolved.

The book is published in the Canongate series of myths retold in modern form. That explains the title: this is supposed to be a retelling of the myth of Prometheus who stole fire from the gods, gave it to mankind, and was punished by being tied to a rock while his liver is being eaten daily by an eagle. Metaphorically of course this is what happens to Theo; and once you are alerted to looking for allusions to details of the Prometheus story, you can find a small number of them.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A vivid and unsettling short novel by a master storyteller., 21 Feb. 2015
By 
Marius Gabriel "Author" (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Judged as a full-length novel, this isn't entirely a success -- too short, and ending rather abruptly. But it's part of a series of novellas commissioned by the Scottish publisher Canongate Books, which sets out to re-imagine and retell ancient myths in modern forms. And in its context, its a superbly imaginative work and a complete triumph.

Though his background is Dutch, Australian and English, Michel Faber has lived in Scotland long enough to be regarded as a Scottish author, which is more than enough to justify his inclusion in this strange and wonderful collection.

As with all of Faber's work, the narration is low-key, even flat, while the content is hair-raising.

The myth of Prometheus, as you may recall, was that he gave fire to humankind, and for that was punished by the gods by being chained to a rock and having his liver torn out every day by eagles.

The fire which the protagonist, Theo Griepenkerl, hands to the world is a fifth Gospel -- one which can set men free from the darkness of organized religion. But it comes at a price.

Nowhere is the novel wittier and more poignant than the section in which Theo browses his Amazon listing.

A vividly entertaining, unsettling short novel by a master storyteller.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Fire Gospel (Myths)
The Fire Gospel (Myths) by Michel Faber (Paperback - 2 July 2009)
£7.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews