Thursday, February 12, 2009

This month's book: Godless by Pete Hautman

What Pete Hautman has to say about Godless:

What sort of book is Godless? It's a coming-of-age story, a comedy, a tragedy, a drama, an adventure. I've been told that the title makes it sound like a scary, violent tale about someone or something evil. It is not. My intention was never to equate godlessness with evil. They are not the same thing at all. I was thinking of the temporary godlessness that descends upon a person who is actively searching for his or her faith. Maybe I should have called it "Churchless."
Godless is neither pro- nor anti-religion. The main character, Jason Bock, is Roman Catholic, but he could as easily be Protestant, Jewish, or Muslim.
Godless is not about God. It doesn't weigh in on the existence or nature of a Supreme Being. It is not about which religion is the truest, or the best. It's about how people--teenagers in particular--deal with the questions that arise when their faith has been shaken.
If you strip away the whole religion thing, Godless is about a big fat nerdy kid named Jason Bock who has an excess of smarts and imagination, and his relationship with his even nerdier snail-collecting best friend Shin.
Godless is about the power of ideas--Jason conceives the Chutengodian religion, he sets it in motion, but he is unprepared for the consequences. This is a latch-key teenage moment--our first conscious realization that the expression of our own beliefs can have a huge impact on the beliefs of others--especially our friends. It's about discovering personal power, and the heady experience of plying it.*