Sunday, April 01, 2007

Godless by Pete Hautman


Just wow.

This book is amazing, even with the orange Y and scarlet A on the spine.

Yep, another book from the 'Young Adults' Section. What can I say? We didn't have a lot of time, and my sister needed Medea by Euripides (My sister's pronunciation: Your-ripe-pieds) for school and the classics are practically in the 'Young Adults' section, probably because most of us won't touch Shakespeare or Dickens outside of Middle and High School - Young Adult time.

Back to my book, please.

Godless by Pete Hautman is amazing.*

It does not matter that it is meant for 'young adults'. I think it being YA means it's easier to read for one, and for another, it draws you back to the time when you were 16, wanting a car, and questioning religion. (Okay, not so much for me, I've been questioning religion as long as I can remember, and I'm only 18, so I'll hush.)

This book reminds me of the bit from the song "Walking in Memphis" - And he said, "Tell me are you a Christian child?" And I said, "Man I am tonight!"

I can't help it, I love that song and I just saw Post-Modern Prometheus Thursday and it ends with that song, it's not my fault.

Back to this amazing book.

It takes place during summer.

A 16 year old agnostic-going-on-atheist is sick of the Catholicism being forced on him. He has to attend mass, but he won't take communion - he's an unbeliever, being an unbeliever and taking communion is like a double sin. He also has to go to TPO meetings - youth meetings where they discuss religion, but it always comes back to "God is great, God is good."

And he's a little sick of it. One day, he gets in a fight with the town bully - who's half his size, but has 3 stooges to back him up and a charismatic presence. And tough fists, apparently. The book starts and ends with him knocked out by a punch by this kid.

He and his friend are hanging out under the town water tower when he (the narrator) gets punched. They were looking for snails because his friend's a science geek and snails like wet, slimey areas.

So he's knocked out, looking up at the water tower, and that leads to a new god - the Ten-legged One, the religion of Chutengodianism.

Why? Water's one of the main things we need in life. What holds water for towns? Water towers. What holds the water for their piddly town? The Ten-legged one.

He recruits 4 other members at first, including his best friend. They swim in the water tower the first Tuesday Midnight Mass - nothing else happens on Tuesday, no other religion has that day yet. They also get busted when one falls off and luckily only breaks bones.

There are some damn interesting quotes in this, and they make me want to apologize to Becky for anything and everything I've said, except she doesn't care. But I'll say them here.

Jason Bock's scientist geeky friend becomes obsessed with Chutengodianism, to the point where he goes into the water tower holding tank and won't get out and ends up in the psych ward for a few days. His last words to Jason resonate in so many ways. They're at the crux of belief, religion, the whole mess.

"How do you know it's not true if you don't believe in it?"

The decision to make the water tower (and water) Gods is much more amusing.

Think about it: What is the source of all life? Water. Where does water come from? Water Towers. What is the tallest structure in most towns? The water tower. What makes more sense - to worship a formless entity that no one has seen since Moses. And all he actually saw was a burning bush.
I explain this to Shin, who stops walking and stares back at me as if my nose has turned into a tentacle.
"You're saying the water tower is God?"
"Think about it," I say.
Shin thinks about it.
"Prove me wrong," I say.

This book goes above and beyond many adult novels. I recommend it to everyone who has ever wondered about faith. It's an easy read, but Shin's last line won't leave me alone.

"How do you know it's not true if you don't believe in it?"

My next book is A Long way Gone by Ishmael Beah. I couldn't believe they had it, apparently they've had it since February, according to the sticker on the front that says 2/07. It was one of the three front cube things where they put new books, and I saw Beah on the Daily Show and I knew I had to read it, and I have it! For three weeks, anyway. From the cubes, I also got Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris, a great, quick read last time I was there.

*I have zero plans to read the other, more famous Godless that came out after September 11th. (Godless by Pete Hautman came out in 2004.)

1 comment:

SISTER! said...

I pronouce it YOUR A PIDES.


and i do care about apologies.
just most of the time we talk its right after i wake up, or right before i go to bed.

and i dont care much for BOOOKOOOKS!

i want donuts.
i love you stinky!