Sanity Quest Publishing

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Helping truth seekers is all I am (or want to be) socially good for.

Hi, I'm Cary Cook - nonscriptural monotheist.

This website (in fact this entire company) was created just to sell one book.  It has evolved since then into a philosophical playground.

I've deactivated the order page because I want to link to this site from private discussion groups that don't allow selling stuff.

Concerning the book, my target audience consists of three kinds of people: truth-seekers, religious zealots (especially Islamic terrorists), and Steven Spielberg.  If you just want entertainment - sure, I'll tickle your frontal lobes, but I don't care about communicating with you unless you're in one of those categories.  If you're a truth-seeker, poke around in the left column.  I have good stuff for you.  If you're a religious zealot, or Steve, please at least read my 530 word preface below - or possibly my news release.

But even if you absolutely love my preface, you'll still have statistical justification to assume I'm an over-promising under-delivering scumbag, until you see convincing evidence to the contrary, for which see my endorsements and reviews, and again poke around in the left column.

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Genesis 22:2 paraphrased
And God said, "Take your son and offer him for a burnt offering."

Verse 10
And Abraham stretched forth his hand to slay his son.

Verses 11 & 12
And the Lord said, "Don't slay him."

Verses 16 & 17
"Because you have not withheld your only son, therefore I will bless you."

In both Torah and Koran* God told Abraham to sacrifice his son.  Of course, the Moslems say it was Ishmael, not Isaac, but that's beside the theological point.  The point is, he heard a voice from God... knows where, telling him to kill his son.  Did he check it out with the local priesthood?  No.  He just assumed it was the god to whom he was accountable, though God as we use the term today wasn't even imagined in the Bronze Age.  And then he did it -- almost.  But just as he raised the dagger, God stopped him, congratulated him for passing the test of faith, and promised him reward for obedience.

Message: Obey God, and you will be rewarded.
In fact: Obey what you believe to be the voice of God, and you will be rewarded.
In fact: Obey what you believe to be the voice of God, no matter how insane or immoral those directions may appear, and you will be rewarded.
But now that we have the Word of God written down, such voices in the sky (or head) are generally regarded as unreliable.  Now it's: Obey what you believe your Holy Scriptures are telling you, no matter how insane or immoral those directions may appear, and you will be rewarded.

Abraham was rewarded just as God promised.  And Abraham's progeny took over Canaan and survived through the millennia just as God promised.  And that proves Abraham obeyed God, and God pays off on his promises.  Therefore, go thou and do as Abraham did.  On this foundation was built Mosaic Law, then all of Judaism, then Christianity, then Islam.  Regardless of which branch is chosen, and whether believers actually obeyed it or not, the maxim itself has remained the Prime Directive of monotheism for four thousand years.  Even when one group of monotheists, in obedience to the Prime Directive, murders other monotheists, the maxim itself is never challenged.  Should it be challenged?

What if a God does exist, and He acted the same four thousand years ago as He appears to act today?  What if Abram (as he was originally called) were not a special person selected by an arbitrary Tyrant for supernatural communication?  What if he were simply a sincere truth-seeker whose efforts to find a God worthy of the capital G met with about the same success as those of any truth-seeker today?  What if he simply chose to bet his life on a righteous God, as opposed to the evil gods of his society?  Now what's the moral of the story?  Insist on a righteous God, no matter what your society tells you, and you will be rewarded.  Does not that message make better sense to everyone from the most sincere and ardent believer to the blatant hypocrite?

* Technically the Koran says Abraham was instructed in a dream. His son believed it was a command from Allah. Angels promised Abraham reward for fulfilling the dream.

Have a sneak peek at Chapter 1     Ready to buy?   Be warned.


Dr. Robert M. Price
Teacher of philosophy and religion at Johnston Community College, Smithfield, NC.
Author of Deconstructing Jesus and The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man
Editor of over a score of fiction anthologies

Cary Cook's Abram is an astonishing breakthrough as a "novel of ideas."  How can the author so authentically convey the feel of the ancient world, as if he knew more about it than archaeologists do, with a keenly modern retrospective sensibility?  He is able to cause us to think dangerous and heretical thoughts with Abram the Patriarch, showing us from the inside out how painful are the steps, socially and psychologically, from more primitive conceptions of God and the world to more advanced ones.  If Paul Tillich's contention that faith is struggle and not pat certainties was ever in doubt, here is the living proof of it!  Cook makes this ancient figure a weather vane signalling us where our own religious future may lie.  Abram is royally entertaining and profoundly thought-provoking!  What an achievement!  What a book!

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Dr. Edward F. Beutner
Priest of the Catholic Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin
Director of campus ministry at University of Wisconsin, River Falls

Cary Cook re-tells the story of Abraham with all the imagination and verve of a director restaging a Shakespeare play--Hamlet, say--from ancient Elsinore to modern Sonora.  What Frederick Buechner achieved for the patriarchal cycle in his novel Son of Laughter, Cook has accomplished in his new, compelling ABRAM.  Read it and weep for Isaac, laugh with Sarah, raise your fist against injustice, clap your hands for the surprise of grace.

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Dr. Jodi Shams Prinzivalli
Director of the New York branch of the INTERFAITH ENCOUNTER ASSOC.

At last, a book that reinterprets the biblical stories in a positive light that lends no credence to holy war.  For those who seek to understand the bible in a different way, Cary Cook has written a book whose time has come.

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Shirley Roe, Allbooks Reviews.

Author, Cary Cook has a unique style the blends well with his topic; by using vocabulary of the day he brings realism to his work.  He presents some interesting questions to the reader.  An interesting hypothesis of an age-old subject, certainly well worth the read.

Ready to buy? Be warned.


And you can bet I get BAD REVIEWS.

Michael Ray Brown

Cook traces the source of religious fanaticism back to the story of God's demand that Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac.  In his intriguing first novel, he blends drama and speculation, theology and spectacle in a way that engages the mind and touches the heart.

"Two ways a man can go: madness or nothing."  Abram's dying father advises his son.  "If you try to stay in the middle, they will kill you."

In 2006 BCE history stood at a pivotal point, when idolatry and pantheism were being challenged by a few truth-seekers.  Abraham was one of these. Known by the Sumarian name Abram, he believed in a single, all-powerful God.

Cook presents Abram as a philosopher and a humanist, a man of intelligence and humor, a man who knows what is right, but who remains conflicted and unable to choose.  He believes that God the Creator would love His creation.  As he tries to reconcile the practice of sacrificing one's first-born son, Abram offers the Almighty a deal: "If to be good in your eyes, I must become evil in my own, then I request that you end my life."

In this slim and fast-moving first novel, Cook takes a revisionist look at such legends as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  According to his reinterpretation, Lot's wife didn't literally get turned to a pillar of salt.  Instead, Cook anchors his tale in realism.  He gives us a chagrined Lot who, with a shrug, informs Abram that his wife ran off with a salt picker.

Applying logic and meticulous research, Cook reconstructs Abram's life, taking into account how his story might have been distorted by the motives of those who first told it.  He shows us how a cult of heretics transformed the God of fear into the "just and righteous" God of Abraham.  It's a journey that casts light into the darkest corners of the human heart, and exposes the duplicity that has led countless zealots to commit atrocities in God's name.

-- Michael Ray Brown

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Melissa Levine
Independent Professional Book Reviewers

"God told him to kill.  He obeyed.  But God stopped him, called him righteous, and rewarded him.  And you're ok with this?"  The opening line of the historical novel, Abram, by Cary E. Cook sets the tone for an informative, frequently funny fictional dissection of the father of the Jewish faith.  Cook begins by providing factual background information about the times and places in which Abram and his family lived and wandered.  While the author gives the reader permission to skip the history lesson, the prologue provides firm footing for tracking through the meat of the story.

The author introduces Abram as a twenty-something-year-old, fighting for his people beside his father Terah and his brothers Haran and Nahor, against the Amorites.  When Haran is killed, the men, including Haran's son, Lot, return to their home to collect their women, children, and belongings and then flee the city of Ur with the masses.

Terah leads the family to the land of his birth, Haran.  It is here that Terah avenges the murders of his father and uncles by choreographing an attack on a tribe of Amorites who have settled into a southern valley of Haran.  Abram has questions and doubts about the different gods the families and tribes serve: "If one god created all men, why cannot all men serve one god?"  When the raid against the Amorites is initiated, both Abram and Lot, who are very close, make the decision to take prisoners of women and children against Terah's plan.  Thus begins the wrestle with ethics and religion that Abram endures throughout the course of his life.

Cook presents Abram as a complicated, fair-minded, introspective man with a dry wit.  While struggling with the incongruities of what he has been taught about religion and what he believes to be right, Abram becomes a successful leader, businessman, and warrior.  He loves his wife Sarai, even allowing her the liberty to speak her mind (so progressive).  Faced with an enormous ethical dilemma involving the sacrifice of innocents, Abram shakily begins the rise to religious leader with the determination to follow a god that is righteous.

The portrayal of Abram is so completely human and shows how pained he becomes over the choices he is forced to make in light of his personal confusion.  This story has all of the components that make Genesis so revealing and, at the same time, a bit disturbing: violence, sex, doubt, and faith.  Cook breaks up the serious subject matter with insidious bites of humor that force bursts of laughter from open mouths.

Abram adds flesh to the bones of the message, strips down the hype, and makes the story of one man who grappled with his faith so many years ago a tale every person in the middle of the same struggle can share a little easier.

-- Melissa Levine

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Debra Gaynor

5 Stars
The introduction to Cary Cook's Abram begins by stating the connection between Abram and Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Cook presents an in-depth historical background of the story of Abraham, he compares the information found in the Holy Scriptures, Koran, and Torah.  Abram is an intense novel, occasionally witty depicting the life Abram might have led.  He scrutinizes his hypothesis that the true story of Abram was twisted, manipulated, and distorted.  Cook portrays young Abram as a person of vacillation, one not willing to make a stand in either way, yet fighting at his father's side.  Taking what some may call myth, others fact and others pure nonsense, Cook revisits the traditional biblical stories such as, Sodom and Gomorrah and the instigation into circumcision.  He puts a inimitable twist and a lot of imagination in his work.  I found this book to be interesting and well written.  This is not a simple or light read but one that will need to be contemplated for quite some time.  Cook has taken one of my favorite Biblical characters and made him flesh and bone.  While I am unsure if I fully agree with his characterization of Abraham I do respect Cook's great talent.  He has caused me to look at Abraham in a new way and to reflect.

Ready to buy? Be warned.

Check out some BAD REVIEWS.


paperback 5.375" x 8.375", 311 pages total, perfect bound
63,300 words, + 18 B&W graphics = 294 pages + foreword 1700 words = 5 pages


I timidly sent out a few queries, but got no response.  No agent or publisher ever read so much as my preface.  I was persuaded to self-publish by casual conversation in my writers' group, which revealed that publishers require a bit more conformity than I'm willing to go along with.  Commercial publishers try to fit all books into a conventional format familiar and comfortable to the most possible book buyers.  I care only about communicating with my target audience.  For example, publishers won't like:

  1. my point of view (POV), which they incorrectly call omniscient observer, but which is actually that of a well informed ghost.  This POV had been adequate for all story telling up until the nineteenth century, when authors started seeing alternatives to it.
  2. my preface and epilog, neither of which fit the standard fiction format.
  3. my sidebars, for the same reason.

Besides, other people won't let you talk straight.  You know that, right?

TOP         Ready to buy? Be warned.