Rich in family drama, passion, and human affinity, critically acclaimed author Frederick Buechner's contemporary retelling of this captivating and timeless biblical saga revitalizes the ancient story of Jacob, delighted our senses and modern sensibilities and gracing us with his exceptional eloquence and wit.
In this reimagined life of the biblical patriarch Jacob, Buechner ( Brendan ) sticks close to the Bible story. Reminiscing during his last days in Goshen, Jacob recounts the familiar events. An ambitious and cunning youth, he gets his ravenous elder twin Esau to sell his birthright for a meal, and then connives to receive the blessing that their father, Isaac (whose name, readers are told means ``laughter,'' hence the title), would confer on his brother. He dreams of a stairway to heaven and wrestles with God, called ``the Fear'' throughout. Later chapters focus, like the biblical account, on Jacob's son Joseph. Buechner's embellishments deal mainly in his subject's inner psychology, and while his style is highly readable, the prose lacks resonance and in the end the novel proves no more evocative or informative than a well-developed Sunday-school lesson. The conceit of Jacob justifying his own life to the reader wears thin, and because the story is so familiar there are few surprises. Buechner's autobiographical works are more effective, but this volume is not likely to disappoint his many faithful readers.