I normally post only on Mondays, and I prefer not to interrupt an ongoing series. If you read further, you will understand why I felt compelled to do this today. The next installment of Mythology on Canvas will appear at its normal time this Monday.
When I wrote and published Jacob Leviathan, I expected mixed responses to my use of spiritual allegory and deliberately antiquated prose. What I did not expect was to read “Anti-Semitic Overtones” at the head of a review on the same Amazon page which lists my book for sale. I concluded at this point that:
- The reviewer didn’t like the story.
- I had awakened in a parallel universe.
Then I read the body of the review and gathered that my use of Mordecai (a “heavily Jewish name”) as the first name of the principal villain was what had prompted the reviewer to make such a strong statement. I must confess that I do not know what it means to be “heavily Jewish”, but I also used other names of ancient Hebrew origin throughout my book. Jacob is the title character and main hero. Gabriel Solomon is his sagacious mentor, Methuselah his ancient hound. Eli (derived from “Elijah”) is his somewhat nuanced but trusted friend. One other unsavory character is named Bart (derived from “Bartholomew” – dang, guilty again). The more general point is that Biblical (i.e. Hebrew) names are endemic to western culture. This is true of my extended family and of the Ozark Mountains which serve as the setting for my story, and I used such names because they contributed to the colloquial tone of my narrative.
Attaching significance to facts is fine, provided enough relevant facts are considered and provided they are afforded more than cursory interpretation. It is also prudent to exercise care in the application of virulent labels. I do not object to other negative aspects of the review. That’s how this sometimes brutal game is played, and I thank the reviewer for making the effort to read and comment on the book which I provided him. But anti-Semitism? I felt that I had to do something, so I turned 360 degrees in a counterclockwise direction before lying down for the night and fell asleep with the expectation of awakening in a rational universe. It didn’t work.