"Infinity in the Palm of Her Hand: A Novel of Adam and Eve" by Giaconda Belli
Reviewed By Susan Salter Reynolds
The creation story is the best improv exercise ever invented. Creation and destruction, self and no-self, story and history, fiction and nonfiction chase themselves in endless circles. The creation story is the Mobius strip, the double helix, the pattern language of art.
For an artist to take it on, she must feel that she is really ready to take it on. It is an act of calligraphy—too much ego, and the mirror that is the story cracks, the pool ripples. Narcissus remains deluded. Told with pure intent, imagination and clarity, the story is generous, capacious. The story becomes The Story.
So you will be glad to hear that Gioconda Belli, who is not a restrained sort of writer, keeps her creation story simple. First, she peels off the old layers of morality—her creation story is hardly a cautionary tale. Second, good and evil, if they exist at all, are two sides of the same state of being. The lovers, who try to figure out who this "Other" is and why he punished them so harshly, even wonder whether the serpent is God's Eve, if the serpent was taken from the Other, just as Eve was from Adam.
This is important, for if there is a new, evolved religion, surely it must embrace the possibility that we are pure at heart, that we do the best we can. To Belli's Adam and Eve, things that are good feel good; things that are bad feel bad. Belli's Eve sincerely believes that God wouldn't have put the tree or the fruit or the knowledge of good and evil in their path unless he had wanted them to partake.