Demon: A Memoir was Tosca Lee‘s debut novel. When I first heard about it, I didn’t really want to read it. I just couldn’t imagine reading a story written from the point-of-view of a demon (which it isn’t, really–it’s more of a as-told-to type memoir). I’m not talking the cute little demons that hang around with werewolves and vampires currently so popular these days. I’m talking real demons from Scripture. Demons are Satan’s buddies. Even if they had a story to tell, wouldn’t it be so full of lies you wouldn’t be able to sort it out?
It took me a few years to find and read this book. It kept coming up online as folks talked about it until I knew I had to read it. It can be summed up in that it tells the story of eternity and history from the eyes of an immortal being–one who was cut off after making only one mistake, and the furious jealousy this causes them to have toward humans, who blow it a zillion times a day and are forgiven if they ask.
That makes it sound like a deep, spiritual, preachy book. It really isn’t, at all (other than deep–it is that). Tosca Lee balances the issues with sensitivity and a very readable book. Curious about demons? This is a must-read.
Here’s the first couple paragraphs:
It was raining the night he found me. Traffic had slowed on Massachusetts Avenue, and the wan light of streetlamps reflected off the pavement. I was hurrying on without an umbrella, distracted by the chirp of a text message on my phone, trying to shield its illuminated face from rain and the drizzle off storefront awnings. There had been a mistake in my schedule, an appointment that I didn’t recognize and that I had stayed late at the office for–until six forty-five–just in case. Our office manager was texting me from home now to say she had no idea who it was with, that the appointment must have belonged on Phil’s calendar, that she was sorry for the mistake and to have a good night.
I flipped the phone shut, shoved it in my bag. I was worn out by this week already, and it was only Tuesday. The days were getting shorter, the sun setting by six o’clock. It put me on edge, gnawed at me, as though I had better get somewhere warm and cheerful or, barring all else, home before it got any darker. But I was unwilling to face the empty apartment, the dirty dishes and unopened mail on the counter. So I lowered my head against the rain and walked another two blocks past my turnoff until I came to the Bosnian Cafe. A strap of bells on the door announced my entrance with a ringing slap.
I liked the worn appeal of the Bosnian Cafe with its olfactory embrace of grilled chicken and gyro meat that enveloped me upon every arrival and clung to me long after leaving. That night, in the premature darkness and rain, the cafe seemed especially homey with its yellowing countertops, chipped mirrors, and grimy ketchup bottles. Cardboard shamrocks, remnants of a forgotten Saint Patrick’s Day, draped the pass-through to the kitchen, faded around their die-cut edges. A string of Christmas lights lined the front window, every third bulb out. On the wall behind the register, a framed photo of the cafe’s owner with a local pageant queen, and another with a retired Red Sox player, had never been dusted. But no one, including me, seemed to mind.
I stood in the entry waiting for Esud, the owner, to notice me. But it was not the bald man who welcomed me.
It was the dark-haired stranger.
The stranger that turned out to have a story to tell. A story he’d decided to entrust to Clay. A story he was urgent to share. A story you want to read.
A sought-after speaker and first runner-up to Mrs. United States 1998, Tosca Lee works as a Senior Consultant for a global consulting firm. She received her B.A. in English and International Relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She also studied at Oxford University. In her spare time, Tosca enjoys travel, cooking, history and theology.
The absolute best book I read in 2007. If you liked this, try Havah, A Story of Eve, Ms. Lee’s work about the fall of man from Eve’s perspective.
I read Havah first, Patricia. I blogged it a few weeks ago, and I agree. Havah is superb.
Thank you, Valerie and Patricia! I will be thinking of you both as I work on my next: Iscariot.