Outlook 16
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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Good Read?
17 Good Read? New Testament ‘Lite’ The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín Published by Penguin, 2013 Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013 We live in an age of personal witness – the ‘I’ and ‘Me’ society of Facebook and Twitter. Experiences need to be recorded and commented on; where possible they need to be filmed. We want to know that someone was actually there – we want to be there and to share the experience. Colm Tóbín’s latest novel The Testament of Mary seems to be a foray into this territory. Mother Mary tells the story of the last weeks of her son’s life and what went beyond. Here is a poetic stream of consciousness which steers clear of any genuine biblical insight, but offers an imagined account of what Mary must have felt like to love and lose her Son of God. Does it work? At one level the book – only 104 pages long – is an original treatment which is presumably why it was nominated for the Man Booker Prize 2013. Whatever the reader personally believes, there are ‘eyewitness’ accounts of the raising of Lazarus, the wedding at Cana and the gruesome details of the Crucifixion. Here is an imagined slice of the New Testament ‘Lite’. It’s rich in lyricism – the spirit of James Joyce and Seamus Heaney – but light on genuine insight – an understanding of the human condition, and in this case what Mary and her experiences were really about. But then it’s a work of fiction, based on what many of us Christians believe really happened. On balance, this reader found the experience worthwhile. Although I can’t say the book quite lived up to the hyperbole on its back cover! Reviewed by Nick Cottam