Book Group: ‘The Lawgiver’
Sunday, April 7, BCC Book Group, 10am. Join the BCC book group to discuss The Lawgiver, by Herman Wouk. The latest from the 97 year old novelist, imagining himself writing a film script about Moses. Sneak peek.
Herman Wouk, the 97-year-old author of “The Caine Mutiny,” “Marjorie Morningstar” and “The Winds of War,” was ready for the interview, his housekeeper announced. Go through the tidy kitchen, past the den with the “I love you, Grandpa” pillow on the recliner, and make a hard right.
And there was Mr. Wouk, standing behind his desk with twinkling eyes, offering a sturdy handshake and declaring himself eager to chat about his latest novel. “Let’s get to it!” he shouted cheerfully.
This was the notoriously reclusive Herman Wouk?
Old enough to remember Simon and Schuster as actual people (“they were as different as chalk and cheese”), Mr. Wouk has written a novel that is startling in its modernity, at least in terms of format. “The Lawgiver,” which arrives on Tuesday, weaves a comedic yarn using letters, text messages, memos, Variety articles, e-mails and Skype transcripts. An epistolary novel, he decided, was the only way to tackle a subject he had spent decades trying to crack: Moses.
“In terms of narrative, my boy, there’s nothing but the Bible for sheer storytelling,” Mr. Wouk (pronounced woke) said. “How do you get at something that has already been done so perfectly? I suppose that explains part of my ‘fixation,’ as you put it.”
“The Lawgiver” is a 234-page story about a fictional group of modern-day people making a movie about Moses — with the consulting help of a nonfiction character: Herman Wouk himself, a “mulish ancient” who gets involved despite the strong misgivings of his wife, Betty Sarah Wouk. Intertwined are themes of rekindled love, financial hide-and-seek, religious heritage and familial ties.