The Book of Genesis, illustrated by Robert Crumb by R. Crumb has got to be the most repetitive title I’ve ever seen, almost as repetitive as the “begats” Crumb had to tackle when he decided to illustrate the full text of Genesis. When I heard about this book, I was intrigued because R. Crumb is always intriguing. I like the excerpt. And I knew it would be a good fit, because the Bible never flinches from depicting people at their worst, and neither does Crumb.
I loved all the beefy, hairy people in his drawings. I admire how he made them all individual, even the “begats.” With such earthy artwork, the stories look like things that could have happened to real people.
I don’t feel I can comment on the text, though. Too much freight attached to it. Most of the stories aren’t so much proper narratives, but more like incidents in a long, strange family history, one generation to the next. A lot of things don’t make sense, or the sense they do make are horrible. (e.g. Abraham and Isaac.) I will say that I enjoyed Joseph’s story the most. You get betrayal and deception and concealed truths all working at cross-purposes with power and family devotion.
Then it ends abruptly with Joseph’s death. And you’re left thinking, he’s not going to do Exodus? Judges? Oh, well. There’s always William Blake for an illustration of Job.