Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Whom God Would Destroy - Commander Pants

This review comes from my long-lost, newly-reclaimed high school friend Daniel Nighting. Daniel is a critic because he lacks the courage to be a writer (so says he). A freelance academic editor, father of 1 1/2 children, and amateur conspiracy theorist, he lives a reclusive life with his mysterious (and deadly!) wife. Most of his time is devoted to studying the authors he cannot hope to emulate.
Daniel reads anything, and hopes to read everything. He's especially fond of anything that blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction, fact and fantasy. His bookshelves overflow with ancient religious epics, the self-published scribblings of crackpots and cranks, fictionalized autobiographies, and assorted rants, ravings, diatribes, and manifestos--along with the occasional literary classic, so he can look down his oversized nose at the unlettered masses. (Summary courtesy of Daniel - Image from amazon.com)

Summary: God's latest incarnation--a telegenic New Age guru named Jeremy--sets out to preach a new, more selfish gospel for the modern age, to be called Meism, but runs afoul of the first stirrings of His own sexual awakening. Meanwhile, his first disciple Oliver, an inoffensive outreach counselor for the mentally unbalanced, finds that Jeremy's message forces him--and the mental health community he serves--to take a second look at sanity, personal identity, Big Macs, and reality itself. Little does anyone know just how big the answers might be...

My Review: If the above summary bothers you in any way, you'll find little to like about this book, which overflows with irreverence, black humor, bodily functions, and heresy against religion and reason alike. If, on the other hand, you're comfortable with unapologetic sexuality, occasionally adolescent jokes, and an author who holds nothing sacred--especially sacredness itself--then this book is well worth reading.

Commander Pants, the pseudonymous author, has a gift for characterization and the rare ability to juggle and seamlessly interweave a series of largely-unrelated subplots. The book is ripe with florid fruits of an overactive imagination and a willingness to look at everyday events from bizarre angles, and the author has a knack for teasing out the tangled threads that make up our "normal" lives. Despite these strengths, WHOM GOD WOULD DESTROY suffers from many of the shortcomings of a first, perhaps overly ambitious, novel. While the pace keeps up for most of the book, at the climax one can't help but feel that the author has bitten off more than he can chew, barely avoiding a lapse into cliche and thinly-disguised sermonizing. The urge to wrap up loose ends is also carried a bit too far, but despite its roughness, the book manages to land with a suitably comic--and cosmic--flair.

My Rating: 4. Caution! This book is not suitable for more sensitive readers or anyone who dislikes the idea that God is laughing at us, not with us.

Sum it up: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Psyche, with an extra helping of blasphemy.

1 comment:

MindySue said...

Very impressive review Dan! Good job!


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