Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge

A joke cracking, somewhat snarky, but always loving Jesus…I’m in!!!  I read this book in an hour and it was just what I need…funny, touching, and poignant.  The book deals with tough stuff…loss of a sibling, a grief struck mother, a deceased father…it is hopeful, not depressing.  And while the title implies a highly religious overtone (and Jesus is one of the main characters,) it is not overly religious…it is definitely more spiritual.  It reminded me of the Jesus in the movie Dogma (Kevin Smith), with no bad language.

Here are some of my favorite moments: 
“Noah prayed?”

“Oh , yeah.  One night out on Bethel Road. He was by himself, and he got out of the car, looked up at the sky, and said, “Who am I, anyway?  Really, who the hell am I?”

“That doesn’t sound like a prayer to me.”

Jesus said, “Sure, it was.”  He leaned and petted Shadow, who let his tongue loll out in ecstasy.

Walker asked, “So what did you do?”

“I loved him.”

“That’s all?”

Jesus caressed Shadow one more time.  He straightened up and looked directly at Walker.

“Dude,” he said, “that’s everything.”

“Little kids I don’t mind.  Every kid wants a pony.  It’s grown-ups that get my robe in a knot.  Stop with the begging, okay?  Adore me for a change.  Or give thanks.  I like gratitude.  Or ask for guidance.  But oh, no.  It’s always the pony.”

Jesus moved closer.  “Walker, listen to me, okay?  You ask what happens when someone dies.  Well, the body decomposes and the worms play pinochle on your snout, but Walker, my dear Walker, the light never goes out.”

Book Description via Amazon

When Jesus shows up in Walker’s life, healing triumphs over heartbreak in Koertge’s finest and funniest novel yet.

Walker shouldn’t have been so surprised to find Jesus standing in the middle of his bedroom. After all, he’d prayed for whoever was up there to help him, and to help his mom, who hadn’t stopped crying since Noah died two months ago. But since when have prayers actually been answered? And since when has Jesus been so . . . irreverent? But as astounding as Jesus’ sudden appearance is, it’s going to take more than divine intervention for Walker to come to terms with his brother’s sudden death. Why would God take seventeen-year-old Noah when half of the residents in his mom’s nursing home were waiting to die? And why would he send Jesus to Coaltown, Illinois, to pick up the pieces? In a spare and often humorous text, renowned poet Ron Koertge tackles some of life’s biggest questions — and humanizes the divine savior in a way that highlights the divinity in all of us.

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