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In my estimation, Tosches has been treading water since the publication ofIn the Hand of Dante in 2002 Save the Last Dance for Satan published in 2011 was a rollicking, fun look at the relationship between organized crime and the business of early 60s rock roll King of the Jews, his somewhat scattered examination of the life of Arthur Rothstein, contains beautiful writing, particularly the elegy for Hubert Selby, Jr Me and the Devil delves into Anne Rice territory with considerable emphasis on Tosches s celebrity buddies like Johnny Depp and Keith Richards It was the first time since Dino that I thought Tosches s writing boring.Very much enjoyed last year s children s novel Johnny s First Cigarette written in collaboration with illustrator Lisa Marie Moyen, and Under Tiberius is a triumphant return to form Narrated by Emperor Tiberius s former speechwriter, lately banished to Judea, the book provides a lively, many would suggest blasphemous, account of Christ whom the speechwriter meets and befriends shortly upon arriving It s a spirited account of a familiar story and the best thing Tosches has written in over a decade Highly recommended. Under Tiberius is set in first century Rome and Palestine where the main character Gaius Fulvius Falconius, former speechwriter for Emperor Tiberius, finds himself befriending a local thief named Jesus Together they conspire to obtain untold riches by convincing the masses Jesus is the Son of God How Gaius will become the speechwriter for Jesus and place eloquent words and speeches in the new Messiah s mouth The author has done some research, although you wouldn t see people in first century Palestine eating turkey they are native to the Americas or throwing around words like fuck, never mind the idea of a pagan Roman walking with a Jewish Messiah, fraud or otherwise Additionally, the author throws around the Render unto Caesar line quite a bit without fully articulating what the line, and others uttered by Jesus of Nazareth, would have meant to first century hearers it has nothing to do with whatever anchronistic ideas the author or other people place upon that and other phrases The novel is an unimaginative bore laced with difficult vocabulary at times you will learn some new words with philosophical and non religious musings that can be mistaken as pretentious all to mask what is otherwise a simple story and even simpler given the fact that the author works with and quotes verbatim at times from the source material, i.e the Gospels. After reading Dino and Where Dead Voices Gather, I d probably be up for reading pretty much anything Nick Toches wrote, up to and including his grocery list which I m sure he d manage to make interesting While the subject matter of this story didn t much appeal to me it s about the life of Christ and I d just watched Ridley Scott s Exodus Gods Kings so I was feeling like I d just done that sort of territory I thought, What the hell, it s Nick Toches Needless to say, he didn t disappoint I don t think I ve ever read as cynical, practical, jaundiced, clear eyed, level headed, knowing about human nature version of these events, yet he still manages to be both poetic and emotional I m sure some yammering, pompous, delusional, self important authority figures will give him some shit for this when it comes out in August but that s kind of who he wrote it about so they can kiss my and his ass I liked this book It s kind of like Jesus for fans of the Balti cop show The Wire A damn good read BH. ,. Under Tiberius was my first experience with Tosches s work, and an exhilarating one it was Set in first century Rome and Judea, Under Tiberius explores an imagining of the origin story for Jesus of the Christian Bible Given the vast familiarity with the general story, the flap text lays out the general premise without mystery A disgraced professional orator of Tiberius s court travels to Caesarea, where he meets an enchanting cutpurse Jesus The two hatch a get rich quick scheme that, as most know, will live in infamy Yet, this gritty tale ends in a real world scenario without indulging the what if that is worldwide legend and belief.Tosches s prose proves eloquent in its deigned form as a supposed translation Readers familiar with the general narrative and miracles of Jesus should find the text as engaging and shocking as intended Those less familiar may feel the text a bit grinding in the itinerant repetitiveness of the story s protagonists Regardless, Under Tiberius offers a fresh take on the generally wholesomely bland version of the greatest story ever told. I really have little tolerance for haters I m cool with disagreement, but when a person reaches the point of throwing vehement rage at the object of their disdain, I tune out or turn off It s counterproductive and it usually makes the hater look like a complete idiot.Enter the many books which criticize the roots of Christianity in the most vulgar manners Clearly, some people hate organized religion That s okay It s understandable for some Rather than approach the subject with grace and intelligence, however, they digress into crude tirades, hoping to convince readers that Jesus had his way with his mother and every little boy he came across in his travels This is not the product of intelligent and insightful discourse it is the work of a juvenile mind bent on proving something And it does not matter the target of this puerile criticism, portraying Jesus as a horny manipulator or the Islamic religion as a nation of sword toting brainless idiots is equivalent to black face and Looney Tunes anti Japanese propaganda If you want to disprove the saintliness of Jesus, do so in a way that at least resembles historical reality.That said, it s surprising that I not only finished Nick Tosches Under Tiberius, but that I quite enjoyed it.From the beginning, it is clear Tosches has some bones to pick with Christianity Jesus is portrayed as a stinking drunk whose only ambitions are money and getting laid Jesus forms a business relationship with our narrator, Gaius, and the two embark on a scheme to get rich Along the way, they become friends For me, this relationship never made any sense whatsoever Gaius was somebody, banished perhaps, but it seemed unlikely he d ever form a true relationship with the likes of Jesus Everything about this novel reeked of authorial manipulation based on a long standing hatred Gaps of narrative and logic abounded.But I pressed on And somewhere, midway, the author did something unexpected he began to treat the character of Jesus with some dignity Though Jesus was no messiah by any stretch of the word, he developed a sense of humanity He became a person, not a caricature And like that, Under Tiberius became a worthwhile fictional critique of Jesus Was that the intention all along Did the author lose focus Seriously, what the hell Suddenly, the writing was interesting and gorgeous There were still gaps in the story and I still didn t understand the character of Gaius, why he cared so much about the man he was manipulating, but Jesus, ironically, became real Compared to the way he was portrayed for much of the novel s beginning, Jesus was multi multi faceted And though he was no son of god, he began to resemble the historical figure who believed in something Under Tiberius could ve been so much better had it not initially been a strident mockery of Jesus It could ve been the book that completely changed my mind about Jesus bashing novels I could ve accepted the greed and the sex, even surprising, I could accept the plot holes and the rushed ending, but I could not accept the blatant vulgarity of a one dimensional Jesus Had time been invested in the relationships Jesus had with his disciples and others, less time spent jumping from whore to whore, I would ve had a greater appreciation for this novel Nevertheless, it surprised me in the end, and that counts for something.Thank you, Mr Tosches, for giving me a Jesus I could believe in. |DOWNLOAD ♩ Under Tiberius ♈ A Work Of Dangerous And Haunting Beauty By America S Last Real Literary Outlaw Under Tiberius Is A Thrilling Story Of Crime And Deceit Involving The Man Who Came To Be Called Jesus Christ Deep In The Recesses Of The Vatican, Nick Tosches Unearths A First Century Memoir By Gaius Fulvius Falconius, Foremost Speechwriter For Emperor Tiberius The Codex Is Profound, Proof Of The Existence Of A Messiah Who Was Anything But The One We Ve Known A Shabby And Licentious Thief After Encountering Him In The Streets Of Judea, Gaius Becomes Spin Doctor To Jesus, And The Pair Schemes To Accrue Untold Riches By Convincing The Masses That Jesus Is The Son Of God As Their Marriage Of Truth And Lies Is Consummated, Friendship And Wary Respect Develop Between These Two GriftersOutrageous And Disturbing, Under Tiberius Is As Black As The Ravishing Night, Shot Through With Fierce And Brilliant Light I had never read Nick Tosches before, and the concept of this book, combined with all this forgive the pun rapturous last literary outlaw talk, had me primed for a gleefully blasphemous, angry novel The concept of this novel is simple Tosches, on a trip to the Vatican, stumbles across an ancient manuscript which reveals the real story of Jesus Fertile ground, to be sure but Tosches almost takes the concept too far There s a lot of dead weight here, almost all of it related to making this manuscript sound as authentic as possible To paraphrase, there s a lot of I write to you in the third year of Caligula s reign, in the month of Janus, etc It gets tiresome What threw me initially was that I was expecting something much snarky in tone, while Tosches is trying to make this a tragedy about human frailty in the face of mortality It did move me by the end, but I almost gave up several times along the way I would recommend Phillip Pullman s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ if this sounds interesting to you. This book, like many in the Tosches ouevre, is guaranteed to challenge and offend Doctrinaire Christians will dismiss it out of hand Open minded Christian intellects will admire the blasphemy, and be instructed by its ruminations about the origins of religious faith I ve always found Tosches to be a skilled writer, the kind who knows how to bend a sentence to his will, build characters we recognize from life, and forge a story we don t easily walk away from Here the story is familiar The life of Jesus But in Tosches hands, Jesus is Eliza Doolittle to a Henry Huggins played as brilliant, appealing scoundrel by Roman nobleman Gaius Fulvius Falconius Falconius is a speech writer dismissed by emperor Tiberius, who finds a new occupation for his wit when he is cast out of Rome and sent to work in the court of prefect Pontius Pilate This Jesus is profane, but we see the populace s willingness to grasp meaning from his words and his miracles This Jesus is no , and no less, god than Jim and Tammy Faye If you ve read the original account, there may be some surprises in store I was a little disappointed with the ending, but not as disappointed as Falconius After all, it takes than artistry to roll away the stone. As a writer of Roman era historical fiction, I m deeply impressed with the labor behind this story, the thorough research done and Nick Tosches ability to transport us to Tiberius Rome and Pilate s Judaea Somehow the work of a pure historian seems easier than that of the fiction writer who dips into history Mr Tosches was obligated to perform the same research as the historian and then to render it light and unobtrusive, something that I think he did very well Where I thought the book struggled was in the fundamental premise of the fiction itself and the manner in which the story evolved, all too quickly with great leaps taken with insufficent support Those gaps were evident from the start when Gaius first invents his fraud and finds his accomplice in the opening pages of the book to me it felt forced, a feeling that I struggled with for the balance of the book The basic story line was certainly inventive and the author s treatment of Christ was humane though that humane treatment is certain to set off predictable controversy But this creative and well researched book nonetheless fell somewhat short in the crafting.