Eat This Book (Or Else)

A new review from Jewish Book World for Believer, Beware, the recently published second book to manifest in print from Killing the Buddha:

Jeff Sharlet, Peter Manseau and the editors of Killing the Buddha
Beacon Press, 2009. 263 pp. $16.00 (pbk.)
ISBN: 978-0-8070-7739-9 (pbk.)

Reviewed by Ada Brunstein

A Catholic collector of Yiddish books, a Jew in search of Sufis, a witch named Velvet, even a lesbian cowboy at Bible camp. These are just a few of the characters you’ll meet in the surprising collection of essays in Believer, Beware. And beware indeed because the authors of each of these essays walk the precarious line between faith and atheism, between individual convictions and family history, between the widely accepted mores that come with a religious upbringing and the sometimes unconventional, sometimes dark, and always personal experiences these authors have had with religion.

The writing in this collection is exquisite. Jeff Sharlet’s “Everybody Has a Mother, and They All Die” is a notable example, but each and every essay was a pleasure to read. But as enjoyable as the book is, and as light as much of the writing is, the questions the book grapples with are profound. These essays are independent of each other and many are just a few pages long, making this the perfect book to read in between sandwich bites during a lunch hour.

“Exquisite!” Sounds pretty good, right? So buy a copy, already. Because here’s the thing: If you’re reading this, and you haven’t bought this book or made a donation to Killing the Buddha, you’re a freeloader. We won’t go so far as to call you a thief, but we will tell our hungry babies that the reason there’s no apple sauce is that all the dough went to pay Killing the Buddha bills, because somebody wouldn’t ante up. In other words (and you’ll excuse us for being crass): This isn’t NPR, motherfuckers! We’re not going to send you a tote bag. We’re not going to tell you that you make it possible. We’re not going to bore you with endless fundraising drives. All we’re going to do is ask — tell — you to buy the damn book or send us a check, or you’ll never see Buddha alive.

You’ll love it, we swear. And if you don’t, you can eat it for lunch.