999 B.C.: Eye-Witness Accounts of the Book of Jonah

Bob Larimer

Publisher: Xlibris Pages: 105 Price: (paperback) $15.99 ISBN: 9781441538529 Reviewed: December, 2013 Author Website: Visit »

This amusing farce relies on a tried-and-true ploy: the comic collision of ancient and contemporary references, sent aloft by wiseass dialogue. Thus does Bob Larimer, a Pittsburgh-born advertising executive with experience in New York’s musical theater, take dead aim on the Biblical story of Jonah swallowed-by-the- whale, here updated to include cracks about child-labor laws, cheap bimbos and brunch at the home of retired prophets.

In Larimer’s witty scheme, the beleaguered Hebrew hero (“Joltin’ Joe” to some) incurs God’s wrath because he’s more interested in chasing an Assyrian princess named Deborah (his beloved “Debby”) than warning the degenerates of Nineveh about the cost of their wicked ways. Soon trapped in the belly of the beast, this Jonah calls out Yahweh with a fervor Mel Brooks or Woody Allen might admire: “Hey, you really know how to jerk a guy around.”

Narrated in alternate chapters by Tiglath (the boy-king of Assyria, a.k.a. “Tiggy-Piggy”), Philo the Philistine, Jonah himself and a few others, the book is billed as a novella. But it reads much more like an advertisement or prospectus for the (as-yet unproduced) musical comedy Larimer has written on the same subject. This brings to mind Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, set in ancient Rome, but Larimer has credits of his own. His But Never Jam Today (a musical based on Alice in Wonderland) was produced on Broadway, and he’s written songs recorded by the likes of Burl Ives, Cher and Judy Collins. He notes that this book is “based on a musical of the same name for which the author is seeking production.”

Judging by present evidence, 999 B.C. just might fly onstage. After all, what audience in search of laughs could resist the burlesque of rich Assyrians at their leisure in the “Royal Class Lounge of the Caravan Terminal” or this irreverent caution to the wayward Ninevites: “Read God’s lips—apocalypse!”?

Also available in hardcover.

Author's Current Residence
New York, New York
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