12.27.2012

Book Review: The Testament of Gideon Mack

Life is too big to be condensed in one literary piece. Some would try to do so, but if you're not Shakespeare, you're works would probably end up being so wide and vague it will pass as a phony. But in every rule there is an exception, and to my utter surprise I have discovered a literary piece that discuss life and death and the entire gamut between the two. Behold, the most philosophical book of the 21st century... for me.


I bought this on the thrift store because of its nice cover and condition. Little did I know, it will be one of my favorite books of all time. The thing with thrift stores is that you'll never know when would you find a book highly disappointing and when would would you find a book so much greater than its actual cost. Spot on, my main strategy on finding books in thrift stores is the Penguin logo. I will hoard all the books under Penguin publication and filter them after. It works all the time.

Back to the book, The Testament of Gideon Mack is of great philosophy it will be inappropriate for me to dissect it in my own way... or better yet, it is impossible to do so. Like what I have done on The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I will only emphasize and elaborate the excellent points of the book for I tell you, it got no weak points open for scrutiny.


Title: The Testament of Gideon Mack
Author: James Robertson
Genre: Fantasy/ Contemporary Fiction

Overview:
"Who am I? I am Gideon Mack, time-server, charlatan, hypocrite, God's grovelling apologist; the man who saw the stone, the man that was drowned and that the waters gave back, the mad minister who met with the Devil and lived to tell the tale"

Gideon Mack, an errant Church of Scotland minister, doesn't believe in God, the Devil or an afterlife. From the moment he discovers a mysterious standing stone, his life unravels dramatically until he is swept into a river and carried through a deep chasm underground. Miraculously, Mack emerges three days later, battered but alive. He seems, however, to have lost his mind, since he claims to have been rescued and restored to the world by the Devil.

Mixing fantasy, legend and history with a wealth of insight about religion, belief and culture, The Testament of Gideon Mack is an ambitious, mesmerizing novel that combines superlative storytelling with immense imaginative power. - Goodreads

Storytelling:

The first point I would like to raise is its manner of storytelling. I am honestly still uncertain if I got the right genre for it since it is laid like a non-fiction novel. Its prologue and epilogue are both made up of the presumed author's story upon acquiring the testament of Gideon Mack. At first I was highly convinced that it is true to life, but as I read the cover and realize that the real author is not the one written in the prologue and epilogue, I got an epiphany that it's either it's such a great trick or I am really that gullible. The perk though is that this kind of impression is thoroughly continued through the testaments itself, for there are some footnotes written by the presumed author that will really convince you. James Robertson, you are one sly of a writer.

Storyline:

Brave and bold, at their truest sense. It talks about religion and how it entails hypocrisy and sin, yes, religion as the very reason of such moral offenses. If you have been with my blog since the early days you would know for a fact that faith is of great value for me. However, probably because of the "mind-liberation" we constantly promote as literature majors or because of James Robertson's raw brilliance, I wasn't offended. In every page it bitch-slaps its readers to the reality of reality and the reality of the world beyond reality. It is the kind of magic realism that emphasize more on the word realism rather than magic. It breaks the common connotation that if heaven and hell exist then so are everything that is beyond our senses. The thing is, there is only one destination, and the other one is a mere trash bin for it, but the latter is as real as the former. All the uncertainties about them them are brought by the fact that our world provide less, or a completely wrong understanding on such matter.

Greatest Epiphany:

The whole story itself is an epiphany. I am seventeen, and I would admit that I still have haven't make a strong grasp of this life, but regardless of your age, gender, philosophy, and most importantly, religion, in one way or another you'll realize something as you go on with story. However, the greatest would be the one told by the devil, and this is how it goes: (expressed on my own understanding)

The devil is as real as God, so are hell as real as heaven. These days, however, both parties are on great idle because of the advancement of human activities. God as we all know, is forlorn, because we are living the life He gave on our own ways, and we only have a little regards about Him. The devil, on the other hand, is already losing his job. People are now living on their own, and the sins they do are of they own thinking, not by his temptations. Bottomline? Neither of them is winning over the other. We're alone with our lives, and we're pushing both of them to the other side.

Quotable Quotes:

There are other points I would like to raise but all of them will result to spoilers. Perhaps you didn't notice it, but I am really trying my very best to avoid spoilers for this because I really want yo to go and check it out. I tell you, it is world shaking.

Perhaps I should go on with my usual wrap up. Quotes! I kept all of this on my twitter account because I think it is a crime to damage, at any rate, this kind of treasure.

"Countless stars winked down at us and didn't give a damn on what we believed in."

"I'm dying. So are you. So are we all."

"All love has fear in it."

"And right at the core of what we all do sits this nasty old bugger called death."

"But you can't pick and choose what to believe, none of us can."

I told you I'm up with the category Life and its Lamentations.

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