- Paperback: 310 pages
- Publisher: Bongo Vista Publishing (October 29, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0615170684
- ISBN-13: 978-0615170688
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,120,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The High Priest of Prickly Bog Paperback – October 29, 2007
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On one level, "High Priest..." is a comic romp through the lives of two men and a woman: a struggling writer with a manuscript, a self-doubt problem, and some rather unsavory friends; a time-hopping, angel-chosen, investor-turned-prophet who suffers in the glare of religious celebrity; and the pragmatic country girl who unwillingly falls for the real man behind the media image. On another, much more grand, level, it is a treatise aimed at curing the spiritual malaise of our age.
The book opens with a free-wheeling splash of metaphysics: the story of the creation of the world by the Great God Bongo. Then it sets the stage with a jump from the distant past to the "future:" the awfully familiar land of Bongovia, where the ruling church has "literalized" the original free-thought gospel of Bongo into a state-enforced religion of conformity. We are swept away on a surprisingly convoluted journey through the conundrums of time-travel, the vicissitudes of celebrity, the travails of the writing life, the slippery nature of angels and friends, plus more. By the end, we realize we are witnessing the dawn of a revolution in Bongovia.
"What am I?" the congregation chants somewhere near the middle of the story, and the High Priest of the Intergalactic Temple of the Great God Bongo answers, "You are what you are... what you have always been... what you will always be." Hiram Blunt, the ostensible author of "High Priest...," clearly enjoys swimming in the deep waters of age-old esoteric thought. And for all his tongue-in-cheekiness, he has some powerful words of wisdom to impart. Perhaps that is to be expected from an author who dictated his novel from beyond the grave (an astonishing claim made on the back cover by channeler and "typist," Mario Vickram Sen).
For the most part, however, Blunt keeps those heady spiritual currents where they belong, buried just under the surface. Plot, character, and narrative voice pull us along easily. One of the pleasures of fiction is voice: that quirky persona a talented author adopts to narrate his tale. Here, Blunt exhibits a natural flair for language that sounds like your well-read jokester buddy confidently spinning a "what-if" yarn, stirring in a little wordplay, a pinch of sly wit, some wacky action, a dash of self-consciously purple prose, a hefty helping of incisive social parody, and a bold assumption of the truth of his own liberal philosophy.
Also, this book's narrative tricks keep good company. Like Paul Auster's "Oracle Night" or "Leviathan," "The High Priest of Prickly Bog" bears the same title as the novel written by one of its characters. Like Milan Kundera's "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting," it occasionally inserts a first-person narrative "I," without explanation, into an omniscient third-person point of view, and straightforwardly acknowledges its story and its characters as fictional creations. Like Yann Martel's "Life of Pi," it's a high-key whopper of an adventure story, constantly underpinned by the universal reach for God.
"The High Priest of Prickly Bog" is a very entertaining read, smart and funny, but more than that -- the kind of entertainment that works on several levels at once, to make you both smile and think. At its final page, you're glad to make the discovery that... hey, maybe there'll be a sequel!
--- Brent Robison, editor, "Prima Materia"