My Mother's Bible by Walter Kirn
A Son Discovers Clues to God (Kindle Single)

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"It's commonly said that if people understood the difficulties and heartbreaks of having children, they might not do it," writes Walter Kirn. "This seems to be true of God as well. Parenthood was not what he expected."

This droll assessment is the type of unorthodox commentary that has made Kirn one of America's best-loved novelists ("Up in the Air," "Thumbsucker") and critics. And behind this particular great writer is an equally indomitable mother. Millie Kirn's spunk and love of literature helped shape her son. She was a voracious reader who "held conventional wisdom in disdain, delighted in seeing hypocrisy exposed, arrogance leveled, and complacency shaken." After she died unexpectedly of a rare infection in her brain, Kirn was sorting through her effects when he came across a King James Study Bible. In his grief, hoping to commune with his mother's spirit, he opened the volume and discovered a glorious profusion of notes in his mother's familiar handwriting. "Much ado about curtains," she wrote in a typically tart assessment of a passage from Exodus laying out the rules for priestly dress and temple adornment.

Inspired by his mother's brash, iconoclastic annotations and following them across the biblical landscape like crumbs, Walter Kirn set about rereading the Old Testament for the first time since he was a child. He sees its familiar heroes—Abraham, Noah, Moses, and Joseph—in a fresh, often comic light. "The Bible is a drama concerned with drama itself, its origins, its nature, and its ends," he writes. "Maybe Creation's purpose is just that: to stir up a fuss and banish God's perfect boredom. My mother once told me that her life was flat before I came along—not bad, just flat. And how was it afterwards? 'Very busy,' she said."

"My Mother's Bible" is a profound reevaluation of God's nature as embodied in the Old Testament, shaped by a son's and mother's enduring love for reading and for each other.


Walter Kirn is a novelist, essayist, and critic living in Livingston, Montana. He is the author of "Up in the Air," "Thumbsucker," and "Lost in the Meritocracy," among other books, and currently works as the national correspondent for "The New Republic." He is currently at work on "Blood Will Out," a memoir of his ten-year friendship with the impostor and accused murderer who went by the name Clark Rockefeller.


"Kirn … can get you into a Moment faster than a Zen master." —The New York Times

"Funny, scary, sharp, smooth, and (in a provocative sense) clean." —Roy Blount Jr.

"A smart, ambitious writer. … Kirn's sentences would be a delight even if they were empty." —Bloomberg News

About Walter Kirn

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WALTER KIRN is a contributing editor to Time and GQ and a regular reviewer for the New York Times Book Review. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, GQ, Vogue, New York, and Esquire. He is the author of four previous works of fiction: My Hard Bargain: Stories, She Needed Me, Thumbsucker, and Up in the Air. He lives in Livingston, Montana.
Published December 27, 2012 by Byliner Inc.. 51 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Humor & Entertainment.

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In what reads like a Bible blog—a literary, layman’s interpretation—the author comes to terms with the death of his mother and a whole lot more after discovering her biblical notes and annotations.

Jan 17 2013 | Read Full Review of My Mother's Bible: A Son Disc...

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