From Publishers Weekly
Merullo (Passion for Golf
) blends knowledge of the game with glimpses into his spiritual journey in this engaging story of golf, the after-life and "the spiritual education of one soul." Former golf professional Herman Fins-Winston has been enjoying heaven between reincarnations long enough to play several of its 8,187 excellent golf courses. When God, who finds golf his only relaxation after minding the universe, has trouble short putting because of the "yips," He (alternately called "She") summons Herman to help. It turns out that God has a "divine" swing, uses old persimmon woods and regularly hits 390-yard tee shots. Merullo infuses his own brand of theology into the story. (On getting into heaven: "You only have to try, to want it, to be sincere about wanting it. You have to not have hurt anyone too badly in your most recent previous life.") The first section, set in heaven, is stronger than the second, in which God (in the persona of a young trophy wife whom Herman dreams of taking to bed) travels with Herman back to earth. There, they play some of the best golf courses in search of the golf greatness he missed in his previous life. Inevitably, Herman's golfing prowess leads to a showdown with evil. (Oct.)
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"No!" the reader of golf fiction screams. "Not another novel starring God as a golfer!" Yes, the game has its spiritual side, and, yes, its devotees often experience a lifelike mix of transcendence and frustration, but why must the Almighty worm his way into so many fictional foursomes? But then, just as the outlandish premise of Merullo's novel becomes clear--a failed touring pro, now playing for fun on one of Heaven's 8,187 golf courses, is called upon to help God (Herself an avid golfer) cure a nagging case of the yips--we find ourselves turning pages rather than throwing the book into the nearest bunker. Why, for God's sake? Perhaps because Merullo, author of the critically acclaimed Revere Beach trilogy, writes with wit and subtlety rather than trying to pound inspiration into our heads with a titanium driver. And, best of all, he gets the golf right: precise, well-constructed descriptions of courses and shot making, revealing a respect for the game itself, not just its potential as metaphor. If you must play golf with God, pray it's this one who shows up on the first tee. Bill OttCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved