Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lucifer's Redemption

“Lucifer’s Redemption” is written by Brett Dean McGibbon, and published by “Different Fish” publishing, a publishing business based in Seattle founded by McGibbon himself.
LR is the story of James, who is the devil born as a human, who takes a motorcycle trip to Alaska and meets Michelle. In the chapter “The first time I have ever slept with God” he and Michelle go down below in his boat “where we could be close.” After this, Michelle leaves James for another man. As a result of this relationship, however, James concludes that “if I ever was the devil, I was no longer.”
Although this is the story summarized in the preface and eulogy, LR redemption seems to really be about much more.
James decides to leave Syracuse when his heart is broken by his girlfriend’s abortion, and he realizes that in order to travel “all you need is gas money and a bunch of peanut butter sandwiches.” He journeys to to Alaska via Seattle. While in Alaska, he works on fishing boat and discovers that “normally there’s a solution for everything. You just call the cable guy or the plumber and soon the problem is gone. Not so on a fishing boat...you have to be able to solve all problems yourself.”
These back-to-the-earth conditions lead James to conclude that it’s most important to have “well rounded skills to extract a living from the earth, not from the CEO’s and stock owners...knowledge of the tides and currents; of the ways of the fish and weather; knowledge of the boats and sails or engines.” (This line reminds me of two lawyers who I used to work for who wrote a check and two Hispanics showed up at their house with weed whackers and cleared out their weed-infested yard, and a money-grubbing professional who I also worked for who fixed the broken drawer in his kitchen with duct tape.)
Additionally, James undergoes a religious conversion on his journey. “My heart had been touched and had opened and love had streamed in....it was Christ love or agape love or Jesus loving me fully, deeply to my core.” The book includes some beautiful passages on the Holy Spirit.

Probably the biggest issue I had with Lucifer’s Redemption is that the discoveries about life and himself that James makes on his motorcycle trip make a better story than the ‘central story’ about Lucifer being redeemed. I don’t sense that this character of ‘satan’ is well developed; it is never explained why satan, who’s role traditionally has been to “steal and kill and destroy” has come onto earth in the form of a hopeless romantic. James reminds me more of the “Skipper” character from Sex and The City. (Except that Skipper went for older women and James' type seems to be the fertile-earth-goddess with enormous birthing hips.)
Even though the book is written in first person, suggesting that everything is seen through the eyes of the “James/Lucifer” character, I sense that much of the novel is the voice of the narrator breaking through, and offering his insights and opinions on so many subjects, ranging from tipping at a restaurant, to the war in Iraq, and to Canada vs. US.

I really like McGibbon’s originality in his writing; for example, he calls Seattle the city “where the woodsman and the Jetsons mix and have kids”. And he writes in a sweet and simple tone; “I wanted to quit people. I wasn’t going to love anyone or let anyone close to me until I met my one girl.” You get the feeling he’s the kind of guy who cuddles up with a teddy bear every night and goes to sleep in Star Wars pajamas.
The descriptions that McGibbon makes of James’ trip are great; “I would come around a bend and crest a hill where the horizon would recede miles and miles from me across a valley to snow capped mountains...Dignity is what it had, the beauty that queens emulated. I wanted to shriek, I wanted to stomp, I was undignified, I wanted to fuck the whole world right there--and after a cigarette I felt like I had.”
I found the unconventionality of this book a HUGE breath of fresh air....how he has written it, bound it, and sells it on the street himself.

(great bod!)
This dude has had quite the recurring presence in Seattle, selling books outside of Monorail Espresso downtown and in front of Broadway News on Broadway for years now. I first encountered him 5-6 years ago when he was passing out his poetry for free. He only secludes himself when he is working on a new book, or taking another road trip up to Alaska. McGibbon has sold 4800 copies of Lucifer’s Redemption and supports himself through book sales--good for him!
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