I, Lucifer: Finally, the Other Side of the Story
By Glen Duncan
Shall we start with the opening sentence of the opening chapter?
I, Lucifer, Fallen Angel, Prince of Darkness, Bringer of Light, Ruler of Hell, Lord of the Flies, Father of Lies, Apostate Supreme, Tempter of Mankind, Old Serpent, Prince of this World, Seducer, Accuser, Tormentor, Blasphemer, and without a doubt Best Fuck in the Seen and Unseen Universe (ask Eve, that minx) have decided â€“ oo-la-la! â€“ to tell all.
I saw this book with its striking red cover positively leaping off the shelf as I passed it while on an escalator. An escalator? Where to you ask? Heaven? Hell? (I hope) No. To the first floor of a multistory bookstore in the heart of Manchester. Great.
It struck me. The nice new cover, the seductive words I, Lucifer on the cover. I had to investigate. Hmm, I read the other side of the story. Interesting, a book seemingly written but the Fallen One himself. This should make for insightful readingâ€¦
Declan Gunn (by no way a play on the author’s real name of Glen Duncan!?) is a struggling writer. Struggling to the point of suicide. A spoiler warning could have been inserted there, but hey, read the damn book yourself to find out when. So by the usual and boring means, Declan decides to slit his wrists in the bath. Typical.
This is where Lucifer steps in. Lucifer is given a chance. A chance to possibly redeem himself in the eyes of the Lord Almighty God, He with beard and flowing white gown. So Lucifer’s shot at real life comes the split second Declan leaves this mortal coil.
Cue interior monologue. The book is based on it. Throughout the whole book, we have interior monologue of the world through Lucifer’s eyes, through Declan’s eyes, nose, ears, and mouthâ€¦Christ.
You might wonder what I am leading to. So far I’ve given you the basis of the book. Declan Gunn is a struggling writer now inhabited by the embodiment of evil for a month. So you would think this would lead to a potentially great book, something seductive (as I have said) that would and could lure you into a world of debauchery, sin, and fun.
The story is riddled with clichÃ©s. Not only does the author — whether choosing to or not (and whether he gave a fuck about the reader of not) — put God in Heaven full of clouds and Hell somewhere near the center of the Earth, but he also thought that it would be cute for Lucifer to overuse the phrase “Jesus H. Christ” when it wasn’t bad enough already.
The language and grammar of the book is sprawling. It makes no sense. Imagine a big publisher-whore (obviously somewhere in seedy London) with a big oak desk, finds the manuscript for this book, eying it up and down, loving the title, looks inside and reads the opening chapter. “Best Fuck in the Seen and Unseen Universe.” Loving it. Carries on for the first few pages, engrossed in the MTV-esque writing style, the mash-up of words thrown together in a blender.
What’s this? Long words. Lengthy luscious lexis strung collectively in a technique with the intention of appearing fresh and innovative. And they are all synonym-ized. (Like that last sentence) â€¦ “Butâ€¦” says the Publisher, “â€¦I cannot make head-nor-tail of thisâ€¦I love it. Here’s the advance, get it done, can I shag you?”
The book contains characters you couldn’t care less about. Declan Gunn’s assistant Somebody-or-other, is he sleeping with her? Couldn’t care less, Lucifer (though he is the devil, remember) is too concerned with the undersized proportions of his new Penis. He goes out and has fun. At a fancy London hotel no less. New suit, Saville Row, invents a cocktail calledâ€¦I forget … with his newly found wealth (Declan being Â£3500 overdrawn suddenly acquires Â£79,666.00 â€“ can it get any worse?), and meets a burnt-out 50-plus woman film producer. How ironic. The book Declan Gunn was struggling with now after charm, admittance to being the devil, and an unsatisfying sex-session later, gets optioned.
How ironic indeed. So is this book. I, Lucifer gets optioned, I mean. With Daniel Craig (the new-hollywood-darling Darling) as Lucifer and Ewan McGregor as Declan Gunn. Great! Good actors doing a film based on a book based almost entirely on interior monologues (have I said that before?) with characters I couldn’t give a toss about. With writing splurged on the page and arranged somehow, all the while jumping left to right bringing in subject and epics from out of nowhere that doesn’t sit right with the context or flow of the story. It is that fashionable stream-of-hyphenated-consciousness prose that does not run correctly, flying off in adjective-stuffed tangents for no apparent reason.
That’s right, the book doesn’t flow. Arduous reading. Took me two months. Not un-put-downable, because if you put it down, when you restart, you are lost again.
The only bit I enjoyed was the bit I was expecting. You know, where the Devil lives up to his reputation and revels in this chanceâ€¦ “No one gets it. Which do you think would annoy Him more? Souls in Hell suffering and wishing they’d been Good? Or souls in Hell partying and thinking ‘Thank fuck I didn’t bother with all that morally sound behaviour crap? You see the logic surely?”
But no. Lucifer, with the body of a mortal, the ability to do anything, with almost no repercussions for a month does nothing but bore. Bore me stupid. Some people (blogsters and critics) call this book acerbically funny with a dry wit. Yeah, it had me laughing my socks off. And yet the socks are still on my feet. The fragmented storytelling did not seem like the story of the Devil, come on, the slickest, smartest, suave and charming individual you could hope to know becomes an insight into the life of the author Glen Duncan and his life relayed through a split-personality ideology of the Dark Lord (a gimmick) because his own writing just took too bastard long to get off the ground. Bitter. Played by pompous sour and weak Satan.
Read the damned book if you want to see what happens, before the film comes out next year, see if I careâ€¦
Oh wait; of the 262 pages of this god-forsaken book, I officially gave up on page 197.