Friday, December 31, 2010
Mini-Review of "Whom God Would Destroy" by Commander Pants
How could I not be intrigued about a novel written by someone who calls himself "Commander Pants." The novel deals with a variety of issues in a "novel" way: a vengeful God, the foibles of consumerism run amok, aliens, abuse of medication, psychiatry and mental illness. The cover of the book adds a nice fillip: "A novel about taking reality with a pillar of salt." That tells you just about everything you need to know about the author's sense of humor and sense of irreverence.
Dostoevsky, in the monumental Grand Inquisitor section of "The Brothers Karamazov," deals with the question of what would happen if Jesus came back to earth in human form. This book takes a slightly more twisted approach to the same line of inquiry. The result is a rollicking romp through Jeremy's impact on a world much in need of a Messiah. There is a bell - think of the Gold's horseradish commercials! -that plays a significant role throughout the narrative. There is a motley assemblage of characters, beginning with the over-the-top Yiddishisms of Mrs. Zeidel, the long-suffering widow who has the misfortune to live a floor below Abbey. Abbey has issues, some of which are being attended to by her "worker" - her "Outreach Counselor" Oliver. There are the denizens of The Peaceful Breeze Inn halfway house, described as the "last refuge of Ripley's lunatics, drug addicts and alcoholics." (Page 7) One of the most colorful of those residents is Doc, a Vietnam era vet who is still fighting multiple wars in his head. His psychiatrist, Dr. Smart, is trying to make sense of Doc's ravings about alien visitations while trying to find a therapeutic dose for the Prolixin that he has prescribed. Throw in a few more characters from Oliver's agency, a mysterious letter-to-the-editor that gets several pairs of knickers in a twist, a local access cable TV show hosted by Jeremy and you have the makings for a wild and crazy ride.
I do not want to give away too much of the plot, because it is delicious fun - as delicious as, say, "two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun"! That quotation will make sense to you as you near the novel's denouement.
Reading this book felt much like reading the good-humored blasphemies of Christopher Moore's "Lamb," or the innocent insanity of "A Confederacy of Dunces."
Here's how you will know if this book is for you. If you smile and nod knowingly when you read this quotation by Voltaire that adorns the first page of the novel, then you will be safe in ordering this book from Amazon:
"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh."
Drink the Kool-Aid! Laugh -at the book and at yourself.