Mom's tart Bible commentary inspires author
"It's commonly said that if people understood the difficulties and heartbreaks of having children, they might not do it," Walter Kirn writes in "My Mother's Bible," just released by the e-publisher Byliner.
"This seems to be true of God as well. Parenthood was not what he expected."
Byliner bills the short book as "a comic, heartbreaking, and refreshingly insightful memoir of Kirn's late, beloved mother, as told through the notes she made in her Bible."
"Millie Kirn's spunk and love of literature helped shape her son, one of America's most admired novelists and cultural critics. She was a retired nurse and voracious reader who 'held conventional wisdom in disdain, delighted in seeing hypocrisy exposed, arrogance leveled, and complacency shaken.' "
After her death, Kirn came across his mother's King James Study Bible and "discovered a glorious profusion of notes in his mother's familiar handwriting.
" 'Much ado about curtains,' she wrote in a typically tart assessment of a passage from Exodus laying out the rules for priestly dress and temple adornment."
The publisher says that, inspired by his mother's brash, iconoclastic annotations, Kirn reread the Old Testament and saw its familiar heroes a fresh, often comic light.
"The Bible is a drama concerned with drama itself, its origins, its nature, and its ends," he writes. "Maybe Creation's purpose is just that: to stir up a fuss and banish God's perfect boredom. My mother once told me that her life was flat before I came along --not bad, just flat. And how was it afterwards? 'Very busy,' she said."
The publisher calls the book "a profound re-evaluation of God's nature as embodied in the Old Testament, shaped by a son's and mother's enduring love for reading and for each other."
Kirn, author of "Up in the Air," "Thumbsucker" and "Lost in the Meritocracy," lives in Montana and is national correspondent for The New Republic.
Byliner commissions and publishes original stories written to be read in two hours or less. These "e-short" stories are available on phone, tablet or computer with a Byliner subscription and can also be purchased individually through digital bookstores.
"My Mother's Bible" is priced at $1.99.n