The Prettiest Novel at the Party

There’s a half-naked woman in the corner, and she’s screaming at a short man with a monkey on his shoulder.  A crowd is closing in around them, and it’s hard to turn away for any number of reasons — three of which are the partial nudity, potential violence and an angry monkey.

But you manage to do so.

The place is packed.

Someone hands you a plastic cup overflowing with a peach-smelling blue liquid.  “What’s in it?” you ask but can’t hear the answer over the three (or is it four?) songs blasting from three (or is four?) different directions.

You step onto the rear balcony of the house and consider dumping the blue liquid into a tall hedge, but curiosity wins and you take a small sip.  It tastes exactly like it looks: syrupy and strong.  You almost gag.

In the backyard pool, a younger crowd of skateboarders whirl around.  One of them slams his head on the concrete edge of the deep end.  He’s dazed, bleeding and smiling.

Behind the pool, a half dozen people are roller dancing.  Jive Talkin’ by the Bee Gees is playing, and their roller skates are old-style, and it’s like you’re peering into a time warp.

You wonder what was in that blue liquid.

“This is crazy!” you hear from the house.  You turn back to find everyone and everything clamoring for your attention.

“I don’t believe it!”

“Take it off!”

The monkey screeches.

Every corner seems to hold something shocking or titillating or disgusting or funny.

But that’s when you see her… leaning against the bookshelf in a small side-room.  She’s silent, remarkably so in this environment, and old fashioned, if in a novel sort of way.  Though she’s entirely self-contained, you feel as if she might have something to tell you.

This woman isn’t going to come to you; you know that much.  You’ll have to go to her.

There’s some risk involved.

You might miss something at the party for one thing.  (A chair has just flown overhead, and there’s a rumor that a ferret is loose.)  And she could be dull or crazy or pompous or bitterly sarcastic.  She might have a hyper-jealous, steroid-raging boyfriend chugging gallons of blue liquid.

But you know something else as well — unlike any other person or thing at the party, she might possibly, just possibly, change your life.

You can buy ‘THE LAST ISLAND’ here.

 

Population as Destiny (An Alternative Interpretation of the Bible)

From ‘The Last Island’:

Kerryn pointed to the Bible.

“I started reading from the beginning,” she said.  “All about Genesis, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the fall from grace.  And it just jumped out at me, what it’s about. Why Adam and Eve fell and were cursed, why we fell from the garden, why Cain killed Abel, and why countries are divided and why people are divided, and why this island is divided, and why and why and why, until finally why I did what I did.  It’s a chain reaction.”

I leaned my chair on an angle against the wall and sipped a beer.  I knew all about being cursed, of course, having been thoroughly lectured on original sin.  I didn’t see how that could help her but had to admit I was curious.

“From Adam and Eve to you.  Please tell me.”

“The first stories of the Bible are about the transformation of society from a hunter-gatherer, take what is God-given way of life to an agricultural, work the soil, accumulate land and goods way of life.  Adam and Eve had everything they needed, but they wanted more.  They messed up and their descendants, that’s you, me, the fisherman, almost everyone, were cursed by God to scrape and dig and struggle to survive.”

Her voice cracked, and I sensed for the first time the suppressed emotion which weighted her words.

“Listen to what it says…”  She picked up the Bible and flipped through the first few pages.   “‘The Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.’  So, Adam and Eve are banished from the garden where they had everything and are now forced to till the ground, to become farmers.  Then later Cain, a tiller of the ground, kills his brother Abel, a shepherd, a hunter-gatherer, because God is not pleased with Cain’s offering.  God knows that the farmers will become too many.  He knows the farmers will overwhelm the hunter-gatherers, killing them if they have to, until there is no place left for them.  The Bible actually lists them, who begat who.  It wants us to know.  It goes on and on, for pages and pages.  The beginning of the Bible is about agriculture and population growth as destiny, leading to inevitable territorial wars, as the need for fresh land overwhelms everyone and everything until there is no place left to live, simply and freely and without harm.”

“Like in a reserve?”

“Like dolphins do.  It’s all right here in the Bible.  The price we pay for Adam and Eve’s desire, mankind’s desire, the colossal expansionary threat that we’ve all lived under since Cain.  Don’t you see?  I had to strike back, had to do something.  So maybe we could start again.  Maybe we could make our way back.”

You can buy ‘THE LAST ISLAND’ here.