Review: I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan

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 – oo-la-la! – to tell all.

Finally the other side of the story claims the subtitle of the book. Of course we have already heard the other side- Dante, Milton, Blake, Wilde and Byron are just some of the few who have written from the view of Satan not to mention the many versions that have appeared in the last two decades. I think this is the cleverest and funniest attempt out of the latter however.

Glen Duncan writes as Lucifer in a stream of consciousness. He is a wicked psychopath who is congratulating himself on various disgusting activities in one of the first scenes where he is visited by a solemn angel. The plot is that God gives Lucifer one last chance to redeem himself by living a month of blameless life in suicidal writer Declan Gunn. Lucifer, of course, treats this as a holiday and abuses his body with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and anyone he can lay his hands on. He is also sarcastic, immature, disgusting and hilarious.

The funniest moments of his transition to a human being (and there are many) is watching him experience a garden with the five senses which reads like a trip on LSD.

Pornography, that’s what it was, a wild pornography of colour and form, the shameless posturing, the brazen succulence and flaunted curves, the pouting petals and pendulous bulbs, Fronds of things. The soft core of a giant rose. I was unprepared…So Lucifer in the garden, spun around by colours and concussed by smells. Weak as a kitten, I heard and saw myself as if from a distance emitting a series of feeble noises and gesticulating like an imbecile.

I laughed out loud in public reading this book in many places but towards the middle, Lucifer’s endless sarcasm and lust and drug taking grew…boring. What interested me back into the novel were his memories of biblical events and the build up to the climax of the novel which illustrated the effect being in Declan Gunn was having on Lucifer. The emotions that he felt rebelling against God sweeps aside the lights, the cigarette smoke screen and music leaving the devastation of what it is like to be us. Because that is what Lucifer recognised in himself as far back as his tempting of Eve and his acknowledgement that when it comes to the Almighty they are seen in the same light. Often one of the human beings will express something emotive which Lucifer will deny but the reader can see the analogy as clear as day.

The sky (even I’ve got to take my hat off to Himself when it comes to summer skies) was high and beaten thin, the low sun softly exploding pale oranges and watery greens into the upper margins of lilac and blue. The whole thing had a distant, bleached quality to it that made me in Gunn’s body feel small and lonesome, not unlike the way he himself used to feel as a child, when his mother would treat him to an extortionately priced helium balloon which would invariably slip from his wet grasp and go sailing up into the vast and lonely distance, until Gunn, nauseated by his relationship to something now so remote, would begin to feel dizzy and afraid.

This book is a guilty pleasure to somebody who grew up with Christianity, Judaism or Islam. The effect was lessened a bit in my case as it is very strictly based on Christianity but it was similar enough that it felt very shocking to read. The part that really made me laugh the most was Lucifer’s version of the crucifixion which had he and his minions trying desperately to stop it and free Jesus while the side of the light was trying to do the opposite over the issue of a technicality. I would recommend this book. The writing is lyrical, bawdy and though the plot is not perfect it is a very enjoyable read.


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