"Homo sapiens is an amazing animal.... Get God and Aristotle off its back, and miracles start becoming the norm," theorizes a hapless human in James Morrow's The Eternal Footman
. Capping off the hilarious trilogy that began with Towing Jehovah
and Blameless in Abaddon
tells the story of what happens after God is undeniably dead. If His giant, deteriorating corpse in the first two novels wasn't enough, now His holy skull stares down from orbit like a melancholy moon, offering daily proof to the Western world that there's nobody left to pray to.
Cirrus clouds rimmed God's skull. He appeared to be wearing a white toupee. At least there weren't any ads today. Why the Vatican permitted the multinationals to aim their lasers at His brow was a mystery she couldn't fathom. Contemplating the Cranium Dei was depressing enough. You shouldn't have to read COKE IS IT in the bargain.
Depressing? That's not the half of it, as Judeo-Christians, sure at last that nothing but blackness awaits beyond death, become "Nietzsche-positive" and are stalked by the leering embodiments of personal apocalypse. Nora Burkhart's son Kevin is the first of millions to succumb to the awful symptoms of abulia, the fatal result of death-awareness. Western civilization crumbles while Nora struggles to take her comatose son to a legendary clinic in Mexico, where a strange, powerful man is rumored to have a cure. Meanwhile, a spiritual sculptor finds inspiration in a new pantheon after his masterpiece is mangled by the Vatican--but the new gods may require the ultimate sacrifice.
This is James Morrow, after all, and despair is always accompanied by enlightenment in his satirical morality tales. Taking cues from Dante, the legend of Gilgamesh, and an imagined debate between Erasmus and Martin Luther, Morrow finds redemption for humanity in the simplest acts of decency. Giant stone brains, God's evil intestines, and the still-guilty captain of the oil-spilling tanker Valparaiso make memorable appearances in The Eternal Footman, a worthy finish to Morrow's trilogy, and a fair but passionate defense of "the West's greatest gift to the world, the miraculous faculty of rational doubt." --Therese Littleton
From Publishers Weekly
The third installment in Morrow's Godhead Trilogy (after Blameless in Abaddon and Towing Jehovah) returns the reader to a world that is perpetual witness to God's death as His Delaware-sized skullAthe Cranium DeiAtakes up residence in the sky. Society is beset with an apocalyptic plague; its victims "riddled with Nihilism... and malignant despair" as they progress through the four fatal stages of the disease. Each sufferer meets a personal "leveler"Aa literate, ironic demon who heralds death and dwells in its host, materializing to impart jokes, warnings, inevitabilities. Morrow offers several heroes to bring hope to this grim world, including former schoolteacher Nora Burkhart, the recently widowed mother of Kevin. Struggling to give her cerebral son a good life, she is soon faced with the arrival of Kevin's leveler, a being called Quincy Azrael. Gerard Korty, meanwhile, is a renowned, reclusive sculptor who lives cloistered with his wife on the Indonesian coast and is commissioned by the Vatican to create God's reliquary. And Captain Anthony Van Horne is the infamous oil tanker captain who's given the task of transporting the Corpus Dei to Rome. These characters' paths converge in the jungles of Coatzacoalcos, site of a unique scientific-religious institution called Somatocism, which promises a cure for the plague. Breathlessly taking on a multitude of absurdities, musings and challenges, the author and his roaming imaginationAlike a plague victim and his levelerAare stationed everywhere along the dense, occasionally bloated story's path, equally ready to debunk and apotheosize. Reminiscent of Swift, Vonnegut and Ayn Rand, Morrow comes off here as ambitious, observant and earnest. A respected satirist and tirelessly resourceful appropriator of the conventions of SF, he may not secure legions of new followers with this novel, but his devotees won't be disappointed. Agent, Merrilee Heifetz.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.