Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In God we trust?

What in God's Name: A Novel

by Simon Rich

Simon Rich's latest novel is set in heaven. Or, more accurately at Heaven, Inc., where God is CEO. Yes, this is the place that you've been reading about in the Bible. But, perhaps it's not quite as you imagined. That is not the case, however, for Craig, the angel at the center of this tale:
"... he was grateful for the chance to finally see God's office. It had fulfilled all of his expectations. God's TV was enormous, at least 60 inches. And his remote control was nuts. A shiny chrome slab that looked like it had been molded to fit his hand. The desk was solid maple, and covered with cool executive toys. There was a Rubik's Cube which Craig could see was impressively far along, and a gleaming executive ball clicker. The kind that swings for minutes on end when given the slightest push."

The image above does not fulfill my own expectations, but then, I didn't know that God was a hard-core Lynard Skynard fan, that angels curse like sailors, or that finding a $20 bill in my coat pocket is a bona fide miracle. A miracle that I may owe to Craig, one of the most dedicated angels in the Miracles Department. As the novel opens, this "Angel of the Month" is tasked with training the beautiful Eliza, newly promoted to the department.

If you are a reader of faith, I think you can already see that this is an irreverent and, yes, very funny take on religion. And if the description of the office above wasn't enough of a tip-off, God is a pretty vapid character. "He didn't want to make the humans suffer. He just wanted them to like him." But he is weary of dealing with them. What God really wants to do is open an Asian fusion restaurant. He decides to destroy the earth and all upon it to clear the path for his next business venture. Can Craig and Eliza change his mind? It all comes down to a bet, a single miracle involving love. Can these two angels save the world? And will they ever go on a date?

If you put your mind to it, you can probably guess the answers to those questions. This is a quick, light, cute, and very funny read. It won't challenge anything except, perhaps, your expectations of an afterlife, but it's a darn good way to while away a few hours.


  1. That's what i was looking for. I will definitely share it with others…

  2. Yeah, whatever, spammer.

    Meanwhile, Simon Rich will be in San Francisco next week reading in the Literary Death Match. I so want to attend, but it conflicts with a LitQuake event that my friend Andy Greer is doing with Danny Handler. So many tough choices next week! It's an embarrassment of riches!