James Reich is both novelist and poet. If you accept that he has the soul of a poet, then I, Judas is one of the most difficult and lengthy poems you’ll ever read. I say difficult not in an “oh my God, what lousy poetry” way, but in the sense of being “uncomfortable while reading” way. I felt, while I was reading, as if I were a child being allowed to sit at the adult’s dinner table for the first time and discovering that it was much more fun at the children’s table.
Perhaps you disagree that he is a poet, then I offer this passage about that fateful morning in Dallas in November of 1963:
“jackals careened about the passenger door. Scarlet broth ran down her sunglasses. His back brace held him corseted to his cross, and the shot pealed again.”
Judas pops up in numerous momentous, and not so momentous, occasions like a modern day Lucifer peddling his influence as he skips around the globe and history.
I was raised by atheists to be a Christian. As such I’ve always had great difficulty accepting Jesus as the Son of God but even I, perhaps because I still attend church for inspiration and solace, was shocked to contemplate biblical characters in such brazen terms. For example, Mary Magdalene as the reckless whore and Joseph crafting the rude cross of his own son’s crucifixion, in the hopes that his wife’s lover will one day hang from one.
Recently, I was discussing the Lochness Monster with my six year old grandson as he has been doing research on Nessy lately. I asked him if he believed the Lochness Monster was real or not and he said “I believe in all the legends Grandma”. Reading I, Judas would cure him of that……………………….luckily he’s too young still. I sort of wished I hadn’t read the book, if you know what I mean.
Please add your comments below if you’ve read the book. If anyone misunderstands my comments above, I enjoyed the book, in a rather painful way.