Samson’s Walls

by Jud Nirenberg

{ 2010 | Paul Mould Publishing | 169 pgs }

You probably know the basic story of Samson: an angel appears to his mother and informs her that she’ll bear a son who is to be a Nazarite, Samson is born and is strong, he marries a Philistine, she tricks him, he kills a bunch of people/animals, he hooks up with Delilah, she tricks him, he’s captured by the Philistines, he loses his sight but eventually regains his strength, he topples a building on top of himself and a bunch of Philistines.

More or less.

Like The Red Tent, Samson’s Walls is an attempt to fill in some of the gaps in the Biblical version of the story. While the elements Nirenberg has added make for a scintillating read, I feel very strongly that these elements are almost entirely a product of our modern way of thinking. The way the characters are portrayed does not seem realistic when you consider the interpersonal relationships and societal norms of the time period. And although Samson was always one of my favorite Biblical characters (for reasons I can no longer recall), Nirenberg’s characterization had me hating Samson within a matter of pages.

Because I read a pre-publication unbound copy of the book, I cannot guarantee that what I saw was the final version. However, in my copy, there were endless typos and grammatical errors on top of the amateur writing. I was disappointed that Nirenberg seemed unable to make the story – either the original Biblical narrative or his own interpretation – plausible. From completely unnecessary swearing to uncomfortably, pornographically descriptive sex scenes, Samson’s Walls felt like the author’s intention was to get a movie deal. I’m sure it would do well on the big screen, since it has many best-selling features: revenge, killing, prostitutes, sex, and an overriding focus on the self. In the hands of a more talented author, perhaps it could have been a best-selling book, as well.

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One thought on “Samson’s Walls

  1. Jim says:

    You continue to make me proud. Nicely done review.

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