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Paperback The Devil and Daniel Silverman Book

ISBN: 0967952077

ISBN13: 9780967952079

The Devil and Daniel Silverman

Danny Silverman's first novel reached #10 on the New York Times best-seller list, but that was 20 years ago. Now middle-aged, he and his partner, Martin, an African-American actor, are getting by on the residuals from Martin's cancelled TV cop series when Danny gets an offer he can't refuse: a speaking gig in a Minnesota bible college that will net him a small fortune.

Why me? Silverman wonders, but he'll take the money and run. What can...


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Customer Reviews

3 ratings

seriously and humanly funny

I vaguely remember seeing one novel, "Pontifex," a long time ago, but I've only known Theodore Roszak as a non-fiction author, from "The Making of A Counter Culture" and "Where the Wasteland Ends" to "Ecopsychology" and "America, the Wise." I didn't know he'd been writing novels all along, and this is his fifth. Judging by its merits, I've been missing something. The subtitle/blurb is "A Wickedly Funny Novel about an Outraged Liberal Trapped in a Fundamentalist Bible College." So in this "high concept" (which is mogolspeak for "obvious cliché") era in which the trailer is the movie, I'm expecting a lot of fish-out-of-water scenes. This novel is a lot better than that. Daniel Silverman (who is gay as well as Jewish and liberal) is a more subtle character, more individualized, who finds himself forced to confront some transcendent issues, even if he'd rather not. Without spoiling the story, I can say I was impressed by how he changes within the main action (though to become more of himself, so to speak) which is itself not as predictable as the title and blurb led me to believe. This is the kind of contemporary novel that should be part of our popular fiction today. It deals conscientiously with important social issues but it's full of humanity and it's very entertaining, with elements of suspense, humor, and refreshly honest intellectual debate. Sure, there's enough irony and puckish literary allusion for David Lodge fans, maybe even for devotees of Delmore Schwartz. But even the fundamentalist characters have dimension, life and a weird sort of sympathy. The all-too typical bicoastal portrait of the frozen and hearty Midwest, and all those tall, toothy folks who actually say, "you betcha," yields after the first pages to a more nuanced though no less paranoid portrayal. It's just that the paranoia gets more and more justified, even as the characters get more and more human. The exegesis of fundamentalist beliefs is thorough and thoroughly frightening, but Silverman's suppression of hysteria for an anthropological analytical calm is both effective in engaging these doctrines, and funny in a spooky, edgy way, so as readers we may find ourselves freaked by our own suppressed hysteria. A couple of Roszak's previous novels have been opted for film and you can see why---even in this era when it's extremely hard to get a good script made, especially if it's about contemporary American reality not involving serial killers, his writing is cinema-sympathetic. And in this novel there's a terrific central scene that plays awfully well in the cinema of the mind. Anyway, there should be more novels like this one, and this one should be read. Now I am going to read previous Roszak novels? You betcha.

This Book Is Dynamite!

Be careful of picking up this book-- it might just make your head explode. Although it is a droll, well-paced farce there are passages that did indeed set my heart pounding. I can only recommend this book to you if you believe:1) You have an open mind2) Homosexuality is acceptable between consenting adults3) Women should have control over their own bodies4) Evolution is an incontrovertible, scientific theory5) The Bible was written by menIf you are not comfortable with these ideas as well as the idea that men and women should lead joyful, spirited lives filled with compassion with others, then I am afraid this book will disturb and anger you. As for me, it is good to know that I am not the only secular humanist left in this country.

Make mine droll, but real

Having lived on both coasts and in the upper Midwest, my view of this novel was from understanding the blinders both groups walk around with in viewing their realities. Roszak captured them perfectly. While Publishers Weakly is correct in their viewing "broad, predictable sendups of the American religious right," they fail to understand that such predictable tensions are really critiques of the elitist left humanist, the ones finding it necessary to feel morally and ethically superior to those narrow-minded Midwesterners. If that was not the case then why, at one point in his defense of humanism, does Silverman question his own motive to proselytize, knowing his stated belief in accepting others and their points of view in a multi-valued society? No, this book is a gem, both in humor and in social thought. What Thomas Kuhn calls normal science and Foucault calls normalizing, Roszak captures in the somewhat cowardly thoughts of Daniel Silverman. Only in the courage Silverman shows in drawing context [or, should I say, a grammar of motives] does the paradigm shift and take on what Kenneth Burke would call the comedy of life.It can be read on both levels and I enjoyed it on both levels, the metaphysical and the social satire.
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