Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt
In her infamous September 2004 posting on Amazon.com, Anne Rice made clear her abhorrence for editors who “distort, cut, or otherwise mutilate sentences that I have edited and re-edited, and organized and polished myself. I fought a great battle to achieve a status where I did not have to put up with editors making demands on me, and I will never relinquish that status.” Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt is an unfortunate lesson in what happens when authors forsake their editors, and illustrates why the editing profession is safe for the time being from a mass exodus of clientele.
Rice has a good story here, introducing us to the young Jesus as he and his family prepare to leave Alexandria to return to Nazareth. A journey that should take at most a few chapters stretches over a hundred pages, many of them laden with stylistic distractions. And not much happens after they get there. Incredibly vivid and gorgeously descriptive passages alternate with clunking redundancies or jarring language that is by turns anachronistic (it’s difficult to imagine an inhabitant of ancient Alexandria or Nazareth talking about going “up the road a piece”) or hollowly archaic. While Rice incorporates copious research from the New Testament and Apocrypha to construct a very human Jesus who struggles with his divine background and calling, it’s clear that she’s a bit out of her depth. Her seventeen-page Author’s Note indicates that this is the magnum opus to which her entire career has been building, and it’s a safe bet that this novel is the first in a series; subsequent books may well rescue this one, since this is a story that gets better in the second and third acts.