Executive Times






2008 Book Reviews



God Is Dead by Ron Currie, Jr.




(Mildly Recommended)




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Ron Currie Jr.’s debut novel of connected stories is titled, God Is Dead. In this satire, God comes into the word as a Dinka woman in the Darfur region of Sudan, where she dies. The feral dogs who feed on her remains play significant roles in the subsequent stories. The thoughts that this novel brings to a reader are likely to be disturbing, especially to believers. Satire, for all readers, can be a challenge, although God Is Dead makes the experience proceed rapidly and easily, if not without heavy doses of darkness. Here’s an excerpt, all of the story titled, “Grace,” pp. 81-86:



Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a ser­pent, and stingeth like an adder. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.


—Proverbs 23:31—32; 34—35


I’m riding with my father in his truck when I see the kid, lying motionless in the grass, his head resting below a window of the house he’s crawled up against. There’s a backpack there, and a crappy old ten-speed that’s been half-propped, half-crashed against a tree.

“There’s a kid hurt over there,” I say to my father. We’ve been mowing lawns, so he doesn’t have his hearing aids in, and I have to repeat myself. By the time he understands what I’m saying we’re already past and down the hill. My father makes a wide turn, swinging the trailer around, and heads back.

We pull up in front of the house and get out. As we cross the lawn I see that the figure lying there is not a kid, but a grown man. He looks a little younger than my father, late for­ties maybe. He’s lying on his side; the seat of his jeans is soiled with either dirt or shit, I can’t tell. There’s a Bud Ice bottle on the ground near his head, empty except for a bit of yellowish foam in the bottom, and a busted-up placard that reads GOD LIVES. The man’s eyes are half-open and staring. He might be dead.

I’m always thinking the worst.

To be on the safe side I let my father take the lead. He just retired from thirty years as a paramedic, so he knows better than I do how to deal with this.

We stand over the man, and my father says, “Hey.” He takes the man’s arm at the elbow. “Hey,” he says, shaking him. “Wake up, buddy.”

“His name’s Lou,” someone says.

A woman’s face appears behind the window screen. My fa­ther looks at me; he thinks I said something. I point to the woman.

“His name’s Lou,” she says again, to my father.

“What’s that?” my father asks.

“Lou,” she half-yells.

“Hey Lou,” my father says. He takes Lou’s wrist between his fingers, counting the pulse against the second hand on his watch. “You know him?” he asks the woman.

She gives a bitter smile. “That’s one way to put it,” she says. “I wouldn’t let him in.”

“Does he have any medical problems? He diabetic?”

“He’s drunk,” the woman says.

My father places Lou’s hand back on the ground, then loos­ens the shirt around Lou’s neck, to let him breathe. Lou starts to snore. He sounds like an angry rattlesnake.

I stand there, rubbing the grit on the back of my neck, star­ing down at Lou, thinking.

“You should call the police,” my father says to the woman.

“He’s just drunk,” she says.


She repeats herself, louder.

“Call the police,” my father says. “Tell them to send an ambu­lance. It’s better that he go to the hospital. He can’t be left out here in this heat.”

The woman stands at the window a moment longer, then disappears into the darkness of the house. After a while she comes back.

“They’re on their way,” she says.

My father is looking down at Lou and doesn’t hear her.

“Okay,” I tell the woman. “I’m going to shut the window.”

“We’ll stay out here until they come,” I say. She closes the window, glances once more at Lou, then disappears again.



My father and I stand with our hands on our hips, squinting in the sunlight. I kick at the grass, shifting my gaze around, try­ing not to look at Lou. My father bends over to check his pulse again.

Then my father says, “Kind of reminds you why you quit, huh?” He doesn’t look at me when he says it.

For a minute I don’t respond. Then I say, “I started drinking again a year ago.”

He looks up. “Hm?” he says.

“I said, ‘That’s no way to live.” I form the words carefully so he can understand.



Eventually the cop shows up. He’s short and thick and has a crew cut. He knows Lou, but calls him Preacher.

“One of your regulars?” my father asks.

“Oh yeah,” the cop says. “We’ve been looking for him today.” He and my father laugh knowingly. I don’t laugh. Instead, I set my lips in a straight line against the front of my teeth. The two of them crouch on either side of Lou, colleagues now.

“I don’t like his breathing,” the cop says.

“Yeah, his breathing’s good,” my father says. “His pulse is a little weak.”

The cop looks at my father for a minute, then reaches in and squeezes Lou’s nipple through his shirt. “Come on, Preacher. Wake up, buddy.” But Lou doesn’t move.

“You got an ambulance coming?” my father says.

“Yeah. I can take it from here.”

“Okay,” my father says. He straightens up, stretches a bit. “We’ve got more work to do anyway.”

We start back toward the truck, and the cop says, “Thanks for your help, guys.” I’ve got my back to him, and I jump when he says it. It sounds funny: guys, addressing both of us, though I haven’t said a word, haven’t been a help to anyone.

My father turns at the waist and raises his hand. I keep walk­ing, and don’t look back.

I haven’t thought of you in what seems like a long time, but for some reason I do now. I see you knocking bottles off the coffee table with an angry sweep of your arm. I hear your voice from behind a locked door, screaming there’s no God, why can’t I just accept it like everyone else? I picture you crying so hard and so long your eyes swell shut. I wonder where you are, who you’re with, if you flinch every time he moves his hands, like you did with me.


Currie’s writing is expert, and that helps make God Is Dead an enjoyable reading experience. If you’re up for the darkness, and the challenge of darkness, you’re likely to enjoy reading God Is Dead.


Steve Hopkins, January 22, 2008



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