"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

And on the 8th day, the Lord created R. Crumb

First off, all bibles hence forth ought to have disclaimers such as the one on Crumb's book, "Adult supervision recommended for minors." What happens in the Book of Genesis - the first of the 5 books of the Torah handed down from God himself to Moses atop blustery ol' Mt Sinai - just what occurs in this introductory chapter to the most influential piece of literature in human history that is so bad kids need a permission slip just to look inside? Namely, sex and murder. There's even an explosion.

What Crumb has done here is nothing short of epic. Understand, this is not Crumb's Genesis or the book of Genesis according to Crumb - you won't find Mr Natural hanging out in the garden of Eden - no, the world of Genesis is already sex-obsessed and bloody enough to out Crumb a thousand Crumbs. The text, narration and dialogue, is culled from the King James Bible as well as Robert Alter's translation of the Five Books of Moses. Any commentary or interpretation is left for the Afterword where Mr Crumb shines a major light on the overlooked matriarchal aspect of the Bible.

So, what you get, simply, is a straightforward version of Genesis with just about every single line illustrated with obsessive, almost monomaniacal, detail. The usually dull pages of Blah-blah son of Blah-blah begot Blah-blah now have faces to go with the names. Faces that appear in the backgrounds of stories of the more well known characters. Faces that are native to the Middle-East setting of the story, full of age and character.

The Book of Genesis and R Crumb are a perfect marriage. I'd really like to see what he could do with Exodus. Or the New Testament. For the moment though, this will work nicely. It is Crumb at the peak of his talents, a hell of a work of art.

*R Crumb will be speaking and signing books at UCLA Live on October 29th at 8pm.

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