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Barking Dogs

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followed by my response


Kirkus Discoveries,  discoveries@kirkusreviews.com
The actual reviewer has chosen to remain anonymous.

A fictional extrapolation of Abram's spiritual quest finds nary a god in sight.
Cook presents an intriguing spin on the traditional scriptural tale of Abram (Abraham), father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  The author's Abram is an imperfect but overall moral person, partly a product of a brutal age but also an individualistic truth-seeker.  Opening chapters are rather noncontroversial, creating a more detailed back story of Abramís life than scripture presents.  Abram and his father's tribe are forced to flee Ur after its downfall and travel to Haran.  Parting ways with his brother after his father's death, Abram, along with nephew Lot, forms his own tribe and moves on to Canaan.  Abram is troubled by the proliferation of gods as well as stories about gods, which differ from region to region.  He is further distressed by evil often inflicted upon others in the name of one or more gods.  This comes to a head when Abram learns that every first-born son in Canaan must be sacrificed.  The practice nearly brings him to sacrifice his own son and, finally, to an epiphany--if there is a highest god, that god must be righteous and, therefore, not require such sacrifices.  Cook highlights the changing and often contradictory accounts of the period to underscore his belief that our own Abram/Abraham legend is no more than a myth carved out of someone's ideology.  Though Cook discounts atheism in his epilogue, it is obvious that he sees divine agency as either fickle or nonexistent. A prophetic dream and a sheep which seems to bray "A-a-a-a-bram" are the only divine communications the title character receives.  Everything which seems supernatural in scripture, from the prophecy that Abram's wife Sarai would bear a son to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, has rational explanation in Cook's account.
Well-written fiction meant to turn our understanding of monotheism's origins on its head.

Kirkus Discoveries

Her statement above, "it is obvious that he sees divine agency as either fickle or nonexistent," is a common, but irrational and false accusation of the kind I have come to expect from traditional monotheists.  Yes, I admit the possibility that divine agency is either fickle or nonexistent.  But they ignore the fact that I say this possibility leads to nihilism, and that I portray Abram as succeeding because he bet against this possibility.

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Another guy wrote the following in an email, but got uptight when I posted his name and website.

I've finished reading your novel and am indeed sorry to say, that in its present condition, even with all the colloquialisms removed from the text, that I will be unable to give you a positive review of the text.
The problem is that the book has a much too pedestrian portrayal of the prophet Abraham; a prophet who is revered by Muslims, Christians and Jews.  In point of fact, I am concerned that you would be vulnerable to a declaration of a Muslim 'fatwa', for much the same reasons that Salmon Rushdie was singled out.  It is clear from the Old Testament and the Koran that Abraham was a holy man, but this is not the mantle he wears in your text.  Anything other than a revered, holy portrayal of Abraham would be of tremendous insult to the above religious groups.  Inasmuch as I have a respected reputation with all the world's religions, I cannot permit my name to be associated with anything which appears to demean the station of Abraham.

Actually I can't imagine a more perfect way to leave this crazy planet than to be martyred by some dumb ass terrorist.