Thursday, June 21, 2007

"God Is Dead"

Ron Currie, Jr.'s first novel is God Is Dead.

He applied the "page 69 test" to the book and reported the following:
God Is Dead is such a freewheeling novel that I'm not sure any one page could be considered representative of the whole. But p. 69 is a solid exemplar of the book's spirit: skewed, funny in an acutely uncomfortable way, and just this side of believable. Not surprisingly, in the wake of God's death civilization has been a bit wobbly. In America, things fall apart because adults begin worshipping their children and having 24-hour pizza parties instead of showing up for work and paying their credit card bills. The narrator is part of a government organization known as the CAPA, or Child Adulation Prevention Agency, and his (very important) job is to keep adults from worshipping their children and thereby keep the wheels of society well-greased and turning at the prescribed rate. But, like the doctor who smokes a pack a day or the policeman selling pot on the side, our hero is guilty of the very thing he's charged with preventing. On page 69 we find him perusing his collection of illicit children's clothing catalogues:

"For a while I savor the cover photos, the little arms and legs, the crisp new parkas and snappy denim overalls, the milk-tooth smiles. Then I gather the catalogues together in a stack and flip through each one. All my favorite pages I've marked with Post-it tabs. Each of my favorite children is a boy, each has a name and a story, and all their stories are happy ones. I smile and share the happiness as they revel in the satisfaction of normal lives and natural fibers. At times I'm so moved I cry a little."

A little creepy, right? But we find that part of the man's problem is that he suffered a terrible loss while trying to do his part to save civilization, and his catalogue collection is an effort to deal with that loss:

"But these are the only fantasies I allow myself. Though sometimes tempted, I never pretend that Laura is still alive, or that our son survived his birth and is now an adorable toddling gape-mouthed two-year-old, quick to giggle, with red hair like his mother's and a predilection for Mack Truck worship. Never do I lie dozing on the sofa and imagine I hear his bare feet slapping across the kitchen floor in pursuit of a dust bunny or a Matchbox car. Nor do I fantasize about taking Selia, leaving this town to its miserable fate, and starting a family of our own in a warm, sane, place. Never, ever do I allow myself these luxuries."
Visit Currie's website and his MySpace page to learn more about God Is Dead and his other writing and enthusiasms.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue