Terrorist

Terrorist

by John Updike

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

The terrorist of John Updike’s title is eighteen-year-old Ahmad Ashmawy Mulloy, the son of an Irish American mother and an Egyptian father who disappeared when he was three. Devoted to Allah and to the Qur’an as expounded by the imam of his neighborhood mosque, Ahmad feels his faith threatened by the materialistic, hedonistic society he sees around him in the slumping New Jersey factory town of New Prospect. Neither Jack Levy, his life-weary guidance counselor at Central High, nor Joryleen Grant, his seductive black classmate, succeeds in diverting Ahmad from what the Qur’an calls the Straight Path. Now driving a truck for a local Lebanese furniture store—a job arranged through his imam—Ahmad thinks he has discovered God’s purpose for him. But to quote the Qur’an: Of those who plot, God is the best.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345493910
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/29/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,184,759
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

John Updike was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania, in 1932. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954 and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal. In 2007 he received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. John Updike died in January 2009.

Date of Birth:

March 18, 1932

Date of Death:

January 27, 2009

Place of Birth:

Shillington, Pennsylvania

Place of Death:

Beverly Farms, MA

Education:

A.B. in English, Harvard University, 1954; also studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford, England

Read an Excerpt

IDevils, Ahmad thinks. These devils seek to take away my God. All day long, at Central High School, girls sway and sneer and expose their soft bodies and alluring hair. Their bare bellies, adorned with shining navel studs and low-down purple tattoos, ask, What else is there to see? Boys strut and saunter along and look dead-eyed, indicating with their edgy killer gestures and careless scornful laughs that this world is all there is—a noisy varnished hall lined with metal lockers and having at its end a blank wall desecrated by graffiti and roller-painted over so often it feels to be coming closer by millimeters.The teachers, weak Christians and nonobservant Jews, make a show of teaching virtue and righteous self-restraint, but their shifty eyes and hollow voices betray their lack of belief. They are paid to say these things, by the city of New Prospect and the state of New Jersey. They lack true faith; they are not on the Straight Path; they are unclean. Ahmad and the two thousand other students can see them scuttling after school into their cars on the crackling, trash-speckled parking lot like pale crabs or dark ones restored to their shells, and they are men and women like any others, full of lust and fear and infatuation with things that can be bought. Infidels, they think safety lies in accumulation of the things of this world, and in the corrupting diversions of the television set. They are slaves to images, false ones of happiness and affluence. But even true images are sinful imitations of God, who can alone create. Relief at escaping their students unscathed for another day makes the teachers’ chatter of farewell in the halls and on the parking lot too loud, like the rising excitement of drunks. The teachers revel when they are away from the school. Some have the pink lids and bad breaths and puffy bodies of those who habitually drink too much. Some get divorces; some live with others unmarried. Their lives away from the school are disorderly and wanton and self-indulgent. They are paid to instill virtue and democratic values by the state government down in Trenton, and that Satanic government farther down, in Washington, but the values they believe in areGodless: biology and chemistry and physics. On the facts and formulas of these their false voices firmly rest, ringing out into the classroom. They say that all comes out of merciless blind atoms, which cause the cold weight of iron, the transparency of glass, the stillness of clay, the agitation of flesh. Electrons pour through copper threads and computer gates and the air itself when stirred to lightning by the interaction of water droplets. Only what we can measure and deduce from measurement is true. The rest is the passing dream that we call our selves.Ahmad is eighteen. This is early April; again green sneaks, seed by seed, into the drab city’s earthy crevices. He looks down from his new height and thinks that to the insects unseen in the grass he would be, if they had a consciousness like his, God. In the year past he has grown three inches, to six feet—more unseen materialist forces, working their will upon him. He will not grow any taller, he thinks, in this life or the next. If there is a next, an inner devil murmurs. What evidence beyond the Prophet’s blazing and divinely inspired words proves that there is a next? Where would it be hidden? Who would forever stoke Hell’s boilers? What infinite source of energy would maintain opulent Eden, feeding its dark-eyed houris, swelling its heavy-hanging fruits, renewing the streams and splashing fountains in which God, as described in the ninth sura of the Qur’an, takes eternal good pleasure? What of the second law of thermodynamics?The deaths of insects and worms, their bodies so quickly absorbed by earth and weeds and road tar, devilishly strive to tell Ahmad that his own death will be just as small and final. Walking to school, he has noticed a sign, a spiral traced on the pavement in luminous ichor, angelic slime from the body of some low creature, a worm or snail of which only this trace remains. Where was the creature going, its path spiralling inward to no purpose? If it was seeking to remove itself from the hot sidewalk that was roasting it to death as the burning sun beat down, it failed and moved in fatal circles. But no little worm-body was left at the spiral’s center.So where did that body fly to? Perhaps it was snatched up by God and taken straight to Heaven. Ahmad’s teacher, Shaikh Rashid, the imam at the mosque upstairs at 27811?2 West Main Street, tells him that according to the sacred tradition of the Hadith such things happen:the Messenger, riding the winged white horse Buraq, was guided through the seven heavens by the angel Gabriel to a certain place, where he prayed with Jesus, Moses, and Abraham before returning to Earth, to become the last of the prophets, the ultimate one. His adventures that day are proved by the hoofprint, sharp and clear, that Buraq left on the Rock beneath the sacred Dome in the center of Al-Quds, called Jerusalem by the infidels and Zionists, whose torments in the furnaces of Jahannan are well described in the seventh and eleventh and fiftieth of the suras of the Book of Books.Shaikh Rashid recites with great beauty of pronunciation the one hundred fourth sura, concerning Hutama, the Crushing Fire:And who shall teach thee what the Crushing Fire is?It is God’s kindled fire,Which shall mount above the hearts of the damned;It shall verily rise over them like a vault,On outstretched columns.When Ahmad seeks to extract from the images in the Qur’an’s Arabic—the outstretched columns, fi 'amadin mumaddada, and the vault high above the hearts of those huddled in terror and straining to see into the towering mist of white heat, naru l-lahi l-muqada—some hint of the Merciful’s relenting at some point in time, and calling a halt to Hutama, the imam casts down his eyes, which are an unexpectedly pale gray, as milky and elusive as a kafir woman’s, and says that these visionary descriptions by the Prophet are figurative. They are truly about the burning misery of separation from God and the scorching of our remorse for our sins against His commands. But Ahmad does not like Shaikh Rashid’s voice when he says this. It reminds him of the unconvincing voices of his teachers at Central High. He hears Satan’s undertone in it, a denying voice within an affirming voice. The Prophet meant physical fire when he preached unforgiving fire; Mohammed could not proclaim the fact of eternal fire too often.Shaikh Rashid is not much older than Ahmad—perhaps ten years, perhaps twenty. He has few wrinkles in the white skin of his face. He is diffident though precise in his movements. In the years by which he is older, the world has weakened him. When the murmuring of the devils gnawing within him tinges the imam’s voice, Ahmad feels in his own self a desire to rise up and crush him, as God roasted that poor worm at the center of the spiral. The student’s faith exceeds the master’s; it frightens Shaikh Rashid to be riding the winged white steed of Islam, its irresistible onrushing. He seeks to soften the Prophet’s words, to make them blend with human reason, but they were not meant to blend: they invade our human softness like a sword. Allah is sublime beyond all particulars. There is no God but He, the Living, the Self-Subsistent; He is the light by which the sun looks black. He does not blend with our reason but makes our reason bow low, its forehead scraping the dust and bearing like Cain the mark of that dust. Mohammed was a mortal man but visited Paradise and consorted with the realities there. Our deeds and thoughts were written in the Prophet’s consciousness in letters of gold, like the burning words of electrons that a computer creates of pixels as we tap the keyboard.The halls of the high school smell of perfume and bodily exhalations, of chewing gum and impure cafeteria food, and of cloth–cotton and wool and the synthetic materials of running shoes, warmed by young flesh. Between classes there is a thunder of movement; the noise is stretched thin over a violence beneath, barely restrained. Sometimes in the lull at the end of the school day, when the triumphant, jeering racket of departure has subsided and only the students doing extracurricular activities remain in the great building, Joryleen Grant comes up to Ahmad at his locker. He does track in the spring; she sings in the girls’ glee club. As students go at Central High, they are “good.” His religion keeps him from drugs and vice, though it also holds him rather aloof from his classmates and the studies on the curriculum. She is short and round and talks well in class, pleasing the teacher. There is an endearing self-confidence in how compactly her cocoa-brown roundnesses fill her clothes, which today are patched and sequinned jeans, worn pale where she sits, and a ribbed magenta shorty top both lower and higher than it should be. Blue plastic barrettes pull her glistening hair back as straight as it will go; the plump edge of her right ear holds along its crimp a row of little silver rings. She sings in assembly programs, songs of Jesus or sexual longing, both topics abhorrent to Ahmad. Yet he is pleased that she notices him, coming up to him now and then like a tongue testing a sensitive tooth.“Cheer up, Ahmad,” she teases him. “Things can’t be so bad.” She rolls her half-bare shoulder, lifting it as if to shrug, to show she is being playful.“They’re not bad,” he says. “I’m not sad,” he tells her. His long body tingles under his clothes—white shirt, narrow-legged black jeans—from the shower after track practice.“You’re looking way serious,” she tells him. “You should learn to smile more.”“Why? Why should I, Joryleen?”“People will like you more.”“I don’t care about that. I don’t want to be liked.”

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Terrorist 2.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the reviews about what a disappointment this book was. I think this is a very unfair judgment. These writers believe these feelings of Islams hate toward the West only come from praying to Allah. However, I found myself both agreeing and disagreeing with the character, and I pray to nothing. I think these people missed the point. It is my opinion that John Updike was only trying to enlighten us with others understandings about the way we are brought up in the West, using the main character as an informer. This book did not only put truth into words, but also educates us about other people¿s faith. Overall, I thought it was worth my precious time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a hard-hitting fiction the politically sensitive may refuse to embrace. With excellent prose as one has come to expect and enjoy from Updike, the existential vacuum we should have taken warning of from Frankl here in Updike's fiction fills with our oldest and most modern yet crude fears and temptations.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The more I read this, I began to get the idea that Updike was hiding behind his characters in order to show his sympathy for not just members of Islam, but the terrorists as well. I don't care what a writer says, he or she ARE the charcters that they create and each carries a small portion of their thoughts, hopes, dreams, and fears. Having said that, I expect Updike's latest disappointing effort to be highly rated by Al Jezera. Once those thoughts creeped into my mind, Terrorist was in a 'no-win' situation, at least for me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed in the latest Updike novel. It is full of tediously minute details about pathetic characters and pages of lectures about Islam. The last section gets moving but ends with a thoroughly implausible event. Again Updike describes sad, unfulfilled Americans no different from Rabbit in his first depressing novels.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
'Devils, Ahmad thinks. These devils seek to take away my God. All day long, at Central High School, girls sway and sneer and expose their soft bodies and alluring hair......The teachers, weak Christians and nonobservant Jews, make a show of teaching virtue and righteous self-restraint, but their shifty eyes and hollow voices betray their lack of belief.' Those are the thoughts of 18-year-old Ahmad, a student at a New Jersey high school. He appears to be a bomb waiting to go off - the son of an Irish-American mother and an Egyptian father who took off when the boy was three, he is devoted to Islam and has found a surrogate father in the imam who gives him instruction. It's not only his classmates that Ahmad disdains but also his mother and the string of boyfriends she dangles. Updike points a chilling portrait of a would be terrorist and also causes readers to wonder why no one had evidently seen the signs of this boy's mind set. In the author's description one of the reasons he's bent on destruction is that he can't think of anything else to do after high school. Little reason for killing people. No notice is taken when Ahmad suddenly evidences an interest in learning how to operate large trucks nor has anyone noted that the boy has never had a friend - male or female. One wonders if he ever longed to be a part of the high school crowd or go out with one of the girls he denigrates It is as if he has developed in a vacuum with only his hatred of American materialism to keep him company. Terrorist is an eerie dissection of an obsessive mind, a troubling story yet a necessary one as it relates to our world today. Plus, in the hands of the master John Updike it is rich in elegant prose and descriptive passages so substantive that it seems characters may leap from the page. - Gail Cooke
harstan More than 1 year ago
His Egyptian father abandoned him and his mother when he was three. Now fifteen years later in New Prospect, New Jersey high school student Ahmad Mulloy Ashmawy scorns his hippie Irish-American mother turning to the Islamic teachings of Shaikh Rashid, who runs a storefront mosque for spiritual and emotional guidance. Shaikh advocates retribution to those supporting the Zionist American government. --- Ahmad heeds the call to arms against the decadent American culture though he at times acts like a teen when he ¿competes¿ for the attention of Joryleen Grant against Tylenol Jones. Central High School Jewish near retirement guidance counselor Jack Levy tries to help Ahmad, but the student sees him as the epitome of why America is a failure. The lad is on the fast self actualization track starting with low esteem metamorphosing into a need to believe and belong to finally turning into a potential TERRORIST. --- Using stereotypes to display flawed characters, John Updike is at his best with this frightening intense thriller in which he makes it clear that social strata and economics make for the breeding grounds of terrorists here (Think England), in Iraq and elsewhere. The author¿s basic premise is that the West is losing the hearts of children who find physiological and psychological nourishment elsewhere while leaders posture like Panglois (Candide) that this is the best of all worlds. The TERRORIST is chilling. --- Harriet Klausner
Aeyan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Deciding whether Updike succeeded in portraying a complicated development of a terrorist, or if he merely expressed a cliché and gave it stereotypical life, the weight of my feeling hedges toward the later. My uncertainty arises due to his well developed tone of sarcasm and irony with which he populates the novel, perhaps overpopulates. Though an intriguing representation of hysteria and fear pervasive after 9/11, I wonder if his intention does not become muddled in the disdain he evinces toward his main character, indeed, most of his characters. While reading about Ahmad and his mixed ethnic upbringing, his rather flighty mother, the high school counselor with decent intentions and a wandering eye, and the rapaciously stereotyped mullah, I could not shake Updike's pejorative presentation of them and the events to which they subscribe, collude, and surrender. Perhaps this falls entirely within Updike's plan, to build a distance from the characters, but it provoked a less involved and less interested reading from me. I longed to have some measure of sympathy for Ahmad, despite the stupidity and gullibility of his youth, even a fraction of a desire to slap him upside the head would have been better than the indifference I felt. The thread of Ahmad's fanaticism and objection to the sybaritic consumerism of his American home and surroundings was also tantalizingly insufficient; Updike had the opportunity to offer scathing reproach through Ahmad, and instead it felt merely like the whining of a spoiled child, an insouciant attempt to proffer justification for Ahmad's later actions. Without this involvement of character I felt like the novel was a hollow platform to criticize attitudes toward terrorist activity, edging precariously near racist propaganda, lacking the strident support of satire, the subtle nudge and wink to let the reader become aware of the hypocritical nature of most terrorist discourse.
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the October, 2008 issue of AARP's Magazine, John Updike reflects on the effects of aging on writers. He admits he may not be as creative as he once was, but opines that he can still put together a series of well-wrought sentences. He also notes that reviewers tend to appraise his most recent work not against other modern writers but against his own (almost universally admired) earlier work. He is right on both counts.Thus, the reviews of his last novel, "Terrorist," generally were not kind. I had a hard time imagining a bad Updike novel, so I bought "Terrorist," admittedly at a substantial discount.Remarkably, the book is something of a thriller with a nail-biting inducing ending! Who'd'a thunk it of the old guy. Although all the principal characters exhibit many of the stereotypical traits of their ethnicity (what fun would it be if they did not?), each remains multi-dimentional. I think some critics didn't like the remarkable coincidence that the wife of the lover of the mother of the duped young terrorist is also the sister of the administrative assistant of the Secretary of Homeland Security (got that?)!! And so the plot (of the terrorists, not the plot of the novel) is disrupted. Dont worry, it all seems plausible.Other critics thought the main character was a bit too naive and wooden in his unreasoning devotion to Islam. But what other kind of person could volunteer to become a suicide bomber? Updike is particularly harsh on the holy Quran--while never making an openly disparaging remark about it, he has the audacity to quote it extensively. No editorializing necessary: it alternates between extreme intolerance and vacuous drivel. No wonder Allah speaks only in Arabic: in English, he is alternately blood thirsty and vapid.Updike could show Mohammed a thing or two about stringing sentences together. How about this somewhat typical description of a building:"The great high school and its several outbuildings were then walled off by Italian bricklayers whose work was latter topped by glinting coils of razor wire. The immurement was piecemeal, as a running response to various complaints and incidents of damage and explosions of spray-painted graffiti. The defaced, rusting fortifications created areas of unintended privacy, such as some square yards of cracked concrete alongside the half-buried yellow-brick edifice housing the giant boilers, originally coal-burning, that send steam furiously knocking, into every classroom. One yellow-brick wall holds a basketball backboard whose hoop has been bent at a nearly vertical angle by boys imitating the dunk-and-hang style of NBA professionals." In all, a fitting addition to the great oeuvre of a great writer, who may not be as good as he was in his prime, but in his 80's is far better than 99% of other writers in their 30-50's.(JAB)Addendum by JAF:I would like to clarify that my husband is not anti-Muslim, just anti religious texts. He would make the same critical remarks about both the Old and New Testaments.
parrot_person on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book by Updike I'd ever read, and will also be the last. To call the characters "wooden" would be generous. Most of them are not characters at all, but simply racist, sexist stereotypes with no discernable human emotion or motivation. The plot is neither imaginative nor realistic. The language is awkard, unpolished, pedestrian. I cannot believe that Updike is considered a great writer. If indeed he was a ever a great writer, that greatness must have been completely exhausted by the time he wrote this book. I can only assume that some people consider it great because of the timely theme.
deebee1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well, simply put, this book reads like a cheesy paperback, or comes across like an episode of some TV detective mini-series. Everyone was a stereotype, everything so predictable where deus ex machina saves the day. Updike uses beautiful prose when describing something, but that's about it. It's disappointing to see a theme such as this which could be explored in all its levels and nuances, be treated in this shallow and rather cheap way.
edwinbcn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Seemingly shallow and predictable, John Updike has written an exciting and gripping novel that is hard to put down. It is easy to believe that this is a book full of platitudes. That is because we read about and think about the books theme all the time, ever since 911. Imagine future generations to try understanding our epoch: this books will spell it out for them, in amazing detail.If any readers feel there is not much to learn about the main character and his ideas, there is surely enough to ponder about contemporary American culture. We may not share the same feelings as the main character, especially not with the same intensity, but the author has added numerous illustrations about which, surely, many readers will nod disapprovingly, especially somewhat older readers. A catalogue of virtue and vice is presented, and readers are invited to consider, as Ahmed considers them.I am not a great fan of Updike, although I will concede that Updike writes really very well. Great prose. I feel most of his books are technically very good, and apparently written with great ease, but apparently without real interest, as if the writer's heart is not in it. That feeling even arose reading "Terrorist". However, once I got into the book, it got to me. The story is compelling, convincing and beautifully written.
DHealy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I haven't really enjoyed the other Updike novels that I've read. I just couldn't get into the Protestant suburban characters he wrote about, but this book is gripping. While some reviewers have criticized the shallowness of secondary its characters, Updike was able to draw my sympathy for the main character and to simultaneously admire and be horrified by his quest.
mattp340 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really interesting, from a different point of view perspective. Worth reading, and I didn't think it would be.
miyurose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Okay, I didn¿t exactly finish this one, but I¿m finished with it. I gave it 105 pages. Do you want to know what happened in 105 pages? Ahmad met with his guidance counselor, went to church, and went to a lesson with his Qur¿an teacher. That¿s it. I was so bored with this that I couldn¿t even bring myself to care about the blatant anti-Americanism and misogynism. The red light started flashing when I hit the 18 page description of a church mass (or whatever it¿s called when it¿s not a Catholic church). By the time I hit the 11 pages describing his Qur¿an lesson, I was more than done. I need some plot!
whjensen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On the surface, this is a book about a disillusioned Arab-American boy who falls into a terrorist plot and the guidance counselor who tries to save this boy of great potential from going astray. In reality, I view it as a study on the dehumanization of the American melting pot in the late 20th/early 21st century.1. Updike's character development of how a boy moves from being disillusioned to being a terrorist strikes true. Despite earlier reviews that speak of his "imbalance" because his father was not there, I don't see Ahmad as imbalanced at all. His decisions were not made due to lack of father figure. They were made based on his disillusionment and detachment from society and the attachment offered by his local mosque.2. All other characters are more like caricatures. Even Levy, the guidance counselor with a heart of gold trying to save the one golden child is a painting of a painting rather than an original. I may be being harsh - this may have been part of Updike's detachment theme.3. There are way too many deux ex machinas within the late plot (won't say too much) but the way that DHS gets involved and happens to have someone who knows a kid who may know something is a bit much. Perhaps, again, this is Updike saying that we need to get back to connections to gain attachment as Americans. But who knows?All in all, a mediocre novel. Worth reading to read it but only once.
ursula on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story follows a teenage boy whose now-absent father was an Egyptian and whose mother is American of Irish descent. He turned at the age of 11 to Islam as a means of making sense and gaining control of his life. Now he's 18, getting out of high school, and finding himself wrapped up in the world of fundamentalist Muslims. There are some amazing, beautiful passages in this book, but at the same time, not all of it resonates. A bit of a mixed bag, but worth reading.
teaperson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ah, to get a book out of the library on the first day it hits the shelf - such joy. But as to the specifics of the book, it's an interesting attempt to get in the mind of a young, serious Muslim-American. As with all Updike, you sometimes get the sense that SERIOUS STATEMENTS ABOUT AMERICA ARE BEING MADE. But, especially as the book progresses, character and plot flow more naturally. It's even suspenseful at the end.
greentea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not nearly as good as it could have been.Seemed "flat"Updike is a mysogynist!
mbergman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reviewers have trashed this book by one of my favorite authors, but it's not as bad as they've said. It helps that the reader of the audio version is terrific. He gives interesting but not overdone voices to the main character, an Islamic convert who's the son of an absent Egyptian immigrant father & an Irish American mother as well as to the other characters, including a secular Jewish disillusioned public school guidance counsellor and his fat wife, a female African American classmate who tries to befriend our hero, and a Lebanese American furniture store owner & his son. This list, though, betrays the novel's great flaw: its cast of characters are all types rather than real characters. (The "fat wife" is a particularly offensive stereotype.) Moreover, the older characters--& even some of the younger ones--give voice to an annoying grumpiness about developments in American culture.
Fullmoonblue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Honestly, my gut reaction was disappointment on multiple levels. For one thing, the relationships between the main characters rang false; I could imagine them existing (and being interesting) alone, but their interactions throughout the plot seemed implausible. Unfortunately, even more disturbing was the way that Updike presented the interaction between Islamic extremism and American culture. At first, the teenaged protagonist seems like a vehicle by which Updike will attempt to give readers a glimpse into why 'they' might 'hate us.' But then the plot veers off into different psychological territory, in that this particular hater (an American-born teenager, oh my) is apparently emotionally disturbed more as a result of poor parenting and attending a lousy high school than by religious or political differences. Was Updike trying to suggest something deep and compelling about the nature of terrorism...? Like that it's more a product of poverty and alienation than Islam? If so, he did a pretty blah job of it. By the end of the book, I had become tired of searching for reasons to be more impressed.Overall, the whole thing struck me as little but a string of caricatures -- the depressed Jew, the frustrated young Muslim, two Brassy Women (one artsy Irish mom, one sassy black teen) and a Scary Imam -- strung together by a flat plot inspired by (and capitalizing off of) 9/11. Yuck.
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