The massive volcano eruption in Iceland is strange to think of as a tragedy, but it is. There hasn’t been any official death toll to speak of, or property damages, but you know that it’s coming — thousands of airline workers are going to lose their jobs. And the wake of destruction looks, well, like the Land of Mordor.
Lavie Tidhar, one of the coolest new authors to pop up in a while (he wrote the Jewish science fiction classic HebrewPunk as well as a bunch of other stuff), just moved back to Tel Aviv and got married — and ten of his wedding guests are now marooned with Tidhar and his brand-new wife. What’s a writer to do?
Strangely, yet somehow appropriately, he’s publishing a new online novella. Every day for the next two weeks (we’re nearly halfway in), Tidhar will release a new chunk of the story. He explains:
Morale is high. At one point we had 8 people sharing our 1-bedroom apartment, and we’ve now rented a second apartment near us (thanks to my lovely landlord) for the family with child. We cook for 10 people and do the washing for 10 people and we have wireless Internet and we can go to the beach. The weather is good.
I think it’s a fun story, and more than appropriate right now – as our stranded guests have all visited the same sites, Nazareth and Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee and Bethlehem, following in the footsteps of our hero.
That’s right. The story, Jesus and the Eightfold Path, is a clever little romp through early Jewish (and even earlier Christian and Buddhist) history, a shot of Douglas Adams mixed with a chaser of Good Omens. You don’t have to know about all three religious mythologies to know what’s going on (but, like starting to watch Lost a season or two late, it helps) — it’s a good-natured romp, and the bizarre characterization of intensity and good-natured slacker-ness by which Jesus and his costars are portrayed, calls to mind something singularly Israeli.
Yes, Israeli. You know — Like Mr. Tidhar himself.
And like Jesus, too. Check it out:
Episode One: Journey to the West
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.
They were not entirely men, and they were not entirely wise; however, here they were, three pilgrims clothed in the dust of the road, travelling faster than men do: for the road was long and dangerous and hard, and a single star in the sky beckoned them on, as if to say, hurry, hurry.
‘Barbarous country,’ Sun Wùkong said. He was tall and thin and had the wizened face of a monkey. He raised a hand and touched the gold band around his head. ‘I could be back in the Bloom Mountains, or better yet, making play for the Jade Emperor’s daughter.’
The fat companion beside him roared with laughter and said, ‘Really, Monkey! The girls in these parts are not too bad. You are too aloof! Too selective! You are a connoisseur, whereas I–‘ he took two enormous fingers and pinched a lavish section of ample skin from his belly–‘I am a democrat, a man of the people! I like to try everything!’