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Glen Duncan: I, Lucifer

Ell

Well-Known Member
From Amazon.co.uk
Glen Duncan’s I, Lucifer begins one steamy summer as some heavy negotiations are taking place in Heaven. God has decided to give Lucifer, the furthest-fallen of all fallen angels, a second chance. The Prince of Darkness can return to the fold, provided he manages to last one month on earth without sin. The human form chosen for this celestial experiment? A depressed novelist of little renown, currently contemplating suicide in his Clerkenwell garret.

Lucifer eagerly grasps the opportunity for a holiday on earth, and uses his host’s identity to re-write the story of Creation in a format that has Hollywood moguls kissing his feet. It’s not popular with Him Upstairs, of course, what with the Devil being portrayed as a maverick free-thinker and God as a humourless autocrat. But Lucifer’s having too much fun to care. He’s experiencing the pleasures of the flesh for the first time and everything – the odour of sweaty tube trains, cocaine, ice-cream, dirty sex--delights him. By the time the archangels are dispatched to bring him back, the Lord of all that’s inhumane can’t think of anything he’d rather be than human.

Lucifer befogs his audience, alternately spitting fury at them like some sulphur-charged Dennis Leary and then insisting that he’s a nice guy, just misunderstood. What’s clear, however, is that Glen Duncan is not merely one of those writers who can come up with amusing concepts. He’s a sharp, sometimes savage observer of the human condition, whose talents are as many as the legions of Hell.--Matthew Baylis
 

mehastings

Active Member
Ug. This book is killing me. From the amazon reviews and the book's description I thought I was really going to like it. The plot is pretty interesting, but the writing style is dragging the book down for me. I find myself getting distracted easily and reading the same paragraph repeatedly. It just feels like Lucifer spends half his time rambling on and on. If I wanted to read rambling I'd email my mother more.

I think it is really a prefence thing though, some people may really get into the conversational writing style. I've been reading it for over a week and I'm still only halfway through (which shows how not into it I am). It's been growing on me a bit, but I don't think it will ever be my one of my favorite books.

So far the best bit is about Eden. I think I prefer Lucifer's version of events to the bible's version. I thought it said something that Eve had built a shelter, collected rainwater, built a boat, milked animals, eaten eggs and formed a domestic relationship with a cat while Adam was running around trying to name everything he could find.

Anyway, anyone else having trouble with the book's style? Has anyone read Duncan's other books? Does he always write this way?
 

Martin

Active Member
Ooh, ooh, ooh ... I love this book! Love it, love it, love it!

Here's my review:

-- -- --

The premise is as simple as it is brilliant; God offers the Devil a deal: come to earth and take over the body of a poor soul who has just committed suicide, stay out of trouble for one month in this body, and you will gain re-entry into Heaven. How could anyone not want to read this - especially considering it's told from the Devil's point of view.

From the moment Lucifer becomes a mortal, he is overwhelmed by scents, sights, tastes, sounds and human desire. But he soon gets used to it, and within the month he's on Earth, he manages to abuse his host's body as much as possible with liquor, tobacco, drugs and sex, all the while applauding and encouraging the evils he encounters.

In a very funny subplot he works on a screenplay about how the world really came to be - he corrects the 'errors' in the Bible; we learn that Eve in fact was quite the self-sufficient feminist before she hooked up with Adam, and the whole fall-bit was very different when heard with a sympathetic ear.

If the idea of the devil as a guy with horns, wings, red scaly skin, a forked tail, and a pitchfork makes you laugh and you appreciate some well constructed vulgarity you should give this a read. When you read this you get the feeling that the author wished he could be the devil himself. Besides that you really notice that Glen Duncan really enjoyed writing this book.

A fantastic read.

-- -- --

To Mehastings - I did really enjoy that conversational style. It would seem logical to me, that if Lucifer would get a platform on which he could tell his story, then he'd have a boatload to tell, digressions et al. Plus, the humour was fantasic - I loved his biting sarcasm, his raging cynicism, etc ..

-- -- --

Cheers
 

mojo

New Member
I agree with everything Martin said, loved this book and think the devil would be the type to rant and hold a grudge. :) Some of the human aspects really got to me, like the woman buying the keyring from the deaf and dumb woman, that is quite painful to read because i've probably treated people like that myself and not realised it. Also love the fact that there are lots of little things just added for the author's amusement eg Declan Gunn, the writer whose body Lucifer takes over, is an anagram of Glen Duncan. Any book that can make you laugh and cry in the one sitting is definately one to be recommended....
 

mehastings

Active Member
mehastings said:
Ug. This book is killing me.

OK. I finally finished this last night, and I've had a few hours to digest. In the end, once the book was finished, I think I liked it. I still didn't love it. I'm deeply unreligious, but I studied History in College, so I've done a lot of bible reading. I liked Lucifer's explanations and his "side of the story" a lot. I thought the ending was great and unexpected. Lucifer as Declan reminded me of something and I'm still trying to figure out what it is.

In addition to the rambling, I had a little trouble with the vocabulary used. I'm usually really good with challenging vocabulary, but this book had pages at a time that I just couldn't figure out. There were too many new words to figure out meanings through context. I actually ended up using a dictionary, something I hate doing while reading. A lot of things were references that people more familiar with British culture would probably get.

In the end, I have decided to pass this book along to my mother. At first I was going to let it languish on my shelves, but after getting through the ending I have changed my mind.
 

Tubular

New Member
I tried to like this book. I really did. But the filthy language, the blasphemy, the wanton sex got to me early and I quit reading it about the time Lucifer blasphemed God's name. I'm religious and I don't enjoy hearing my God's name taken in vain.

I want my $13 bucks back!

Tubular
 

Tubular

New Member
Martin said:
Then why did you even try this book?

I thought it would be like C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters. The two works couldn't be further apart, however, at least as far as I read.
 

mehastings

Active Member
Tubular said:
I tried to like this book. I really did. But the filthy language, the blasphemy, the wanton sex got to me early and I quit reading it about the time Lucifer blasphemed God's name. I'm religious and I don't enjoy hearing my God's name taken in vain.

I want my $13 bucks back!

I'm not religious, so I really didn't think all that much about how others might think about the material. It brings up a good point. I look at it this way:

The author pretty much portrays Lucifer as a complete a**hole. He thinks a lot of himself and he blatantly lies to everyone, including the reader (think arrival "cocktails in hell"). You could look at this book as "being on God's side" by showing the reader how horrible Lucifer is and how even if given a second chance his true nature would ultimately show. You could just say everything he says in contradiction to the bible was a lie. Assuming that you believe in Lucifer (I know some religious folks don't), would you really expect him to do anything other than talk smack about God, swear, smoke, drink and call XXX Quisit prostitutes all day given the opportunity?
 

mojo

New Member
Tubular said:
I tried to like this book. I really did. But the filthy language, the blasphemy, the wanton sex got to me early and I quit reading it about the time Lucifer blasphemed God's name. I'm religious and I don't enjoy hearing my God's name taken in vain.

I want my $13 bucks back!

Tubular

I believe in God too, but you can't really expect Lucifer, prince of darkness, destroyer of worlds epitome of evil etc etc to be a nice bloke. He has to revel in evil, it's part of the job description. It's not gratutious, and besides, its seriously bloody funny :)
 

Tubular

New Member
Yeah, I agree that Lucifer shouldn't be portrayed as a "nice bloke." But C.S. Lewis managed to portray Screwtape in a bad light without resorting to blasphemy and explicit sex. I guess I'm not objecting as much to the idea that Lucifer would be a bad guy as I am the author's use of explicit language and sex.

It could have been done less offensively, in other words. JMHO.
 

mojo

New Member
Tubular said:
Yeah, I agree that Lucifer shouldn't be portrayed as a "nice bloke." But C.S. Lewis managed to portray Screwtape in a bad light without resorting to blasphemy and explicit sex. I guess I'm not objecting as much to the idea that Lucifer would be a bad guy as I am the author's use of explicit language and sex.

It could have been done less offensively, in other words. JMHO.

Oh I see, fair enough :D I personally don't think it could though, I think Lucifer should offend. There are a number of things Duncan's Lucifer says that are upsetting, but I expected them so wasn't offended as such, and he does make some very valid points about sin and human nature which wouldnt be hammered home so forcefully would it not be for the way he expresses them. Saying that I haven't read that particular C. S Lewis work, so maybe it can and has been done better.
 

Tubular

New Member
Well, I guess this work may have literary validity to some extent, but it did offend me and I don't care for it. Different tastes for different palates, I guess.
 

Ashlea

New Member
I am loving this so far (about 1/2 way in.) I love that he uses language to its limits, all the while saying that the available metaphor and vocabulary is insufficient to express what he's trying to communicate. And he's obviously very good at his job. :D
 

Motokid

New Member
"In addition to the rambling, I had a little trouble with the vocabulary used. A lot of things were references that people more familiar with British culture would probably get."

Thank you for saying this. I was really beginning to believe my vocabulary was extremely limited, but then I realized that maybe it's just my American in me showing again. It is distracting at times to really have to try to figure out what some things mean. This book must certainly be an easier read for those from the UK.
 

Motokid

New Member
All right, I finished this book. It was a struggle at times, but I liked it when all is said and done. I'm wondering when we can discuss the book a bit more? It seems not many people are responding to this thread. Might be just Martin and I?

Is it wrong to start talking about the ending without using spoilers? I want to know if I understand a few things.

Am I to understand that god's plan was to trick lucifer into a position where he might not be able to fight back when god decides to wage war on hell? Basically get lucifer into a human body, enjoying all that mankind can offer, forget the pain of being lucifer, then attack at the point where lucifer is weakest? But it did not quite work out as god had planned right?
 

Motokid

New Member
geez Martin....could you spare all the rhetoric...I can't quite get what you wish to say, what with all the uneccessary words crowding up your post.....


It was a bit wierd to try to comprehend that an entity as powerful as the supreme archangles (spelling?) would be so taken aback by the sensations of such a simple being as a human. Interesting idea I thought. I also liked how over time Lucifer really got into just being a human. Granted he did have the ability to fix things to his liking.

Is it a bizarre thought to have god wage war?
 

Martin

Active Member
I don't know, is it?

There's supposed to be (or have been) this huge battle between heaven and hell, right? Methinks God would be involved, then.

Cheers
 
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