Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley – A Review
There are several stories in the Bible (both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament as well) that are known by almost everyone out there (and even more than that, they resemble stories from other cultures than the Judeo-Christian one as well). The story of Noah and the flood is one of them and everybody seems to take it as such: Noah is God’s most beloved human, so He lets him know of the flood that will kill everything on Earth. Therefore, God tells Noah to build an ark and to take his family and two animals out of each species with him on the ark.
Timothy Findley gives the reader with a different perspective on this story. Not Wanted on the Voyage is a postmodern interpretation of Noah’s story and it allows us to see things from a different point of view. In Findley’s novel, Dr. Noah Noyes is presented as a tyrannical religious zealot who takes God’s word as it is and who is ready to commit murder (or to order it, to be more precise) to make sure that God’s word is followed exactly. Even more, God (Yahweh) is presented as tired of humanity’s treatment of him and as ready to die. When Noah tries to entertain God with a trick that makes a coin disappear in a glass of water, Yahweh becomes obsessed with the idea that water can actually make everything disappear – so he decides to flood everything on Earth, but not before letting Noah know of his plan.
In a way similar to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude blends realism with fantastic elements, Not Wanted on the Voyage also mixes a lot of other elements that will seem odd to someone who has never read a book of this kind before. Noah’s wife can talk to animals, Mottyl is a cat with a very strong personality and Lucifer himself is taken on the ark in the form of Lucy (one of Noah’s sons’ wife). On top of everything, unicorns are just as big as a dog and they are present on the ark as if they are something completely normal every human being on Earth is familiar with.
This is a bizarre book indeed, but once you get past its oddities, you will discover that it is a book that makes you pose some serious questions on something that has been spoon-fed to everyone growing in a Judeo-Christian context. What if we have never realized that Noah was not a life-saver but a tyrant? What if we never realized how desperate God must have been when he wanted to flood the world and allow everything to die? What if God himself died in the flood? What if we never realized that Lucifer himself must have been on the ark, since evil has been present since the flood as well? What about all those who were left behind?
Do not read this book if you are on the side of the faint-hearted. Strange and even disturbing at times, this is not the kind of book you want to read before bed time, but the kind of book that will make you hungry for answers you may never find. This is a book for those open to the idea that the Bible may not always be as simple as it seems and for those open to the idea that there may be different points of view to explore when it comes to stories we have grown much too familiar with.