Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.

When I go from hence
let this be my parting word,
that what I have seen is unsurpassable.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Bookmarks: The Flood by David Maine

I just finished reading a delightful novel called The Flood by David Maine. It is a funny and imaginative reconstruction of the Biblical Flood as seen and endured by Noah and his family. David Maine takes a simplistic god-punishes-bad-people story and a set of one dimensional characters from the Bible and infuses them with so much warmth and humanity that they start coming across as real people. Eight ordinary people who are faced with an extraordinary journey and must make it together. No one really knows what is happening. Even Noah is not certain of what God wants from him or why. He can offer no reasons for what he is asking his family to do. He only has an unshakeable faith in his God.
Each chapter of the story is told from the point of view of a different character. Each of them has a different take on the events. We see each character evolve as the flood changes him or her in unexpected ways and we leave them as very different people than we find them at the start of the tale. Maine injects just enough irreverence and humour to enable us to suspend disbelief and avoid getting bogged down by the fantastic events in the story. In his hands even God ceases to be a unidimensional all powerful entity and acquires motivations and intensions that can be questioned. Towards the end of the tale each character tries to answer the question: Why did God do it? They come up with eight different answers. Answers which reveal more about them than their God. Sample some:

"Because He wishes to cleanse the world of sin and punish the unbelievers"
"Because He can"
"Because He wants to encourage us to do better"
"Because, like most males, He loves destruction for its own sake"
"Beause there is no limit to the suffering He makes available to us, for reasons only He understands"

The Flood is ultimately, the story of a family, its trials and tribulations and individuals who, inspite of all their differences, love and respect each other. Its humour and irreverence hold more lessons in life and love than is readily apparent. But what stands out above all is the humanity in the novel. Its refusal to come to a tame happily-ever-after ending only enhances its humaneness. Blessed with a thousand year life and cursed to out live all his family, Noah's fate is far from being what we would expect.

The Flood is David Maine's debut novel.

No comments:

Post a Comment