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What in God's Name: A Novel Paperback – August 20, 2013
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About the Author
Simon Rich "is still the freshest, funniest new writer today," according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He has written comedy for the New Yorker, Pixar, Saturday Night Live, the Believer, and various movie studios. He's the author of two collections, Free-Range Chickens and Ant Farm. His first novel, Elliot Allagash, was optioned for a film by Jason Reitman. Rich lives, predictably, in Brooklyn.
Top customer reviews
The story arc kept me engaged to finish as well. I'm always reading at least two books at a time and this one was one of four. I finished it first because I just had to see just how/if the Angels would save earth. Don't expect to have lingering thoughts or questions, as it's not exactly illuminating or especially thought provoking, as you might expect from the title. What he does manage to do though, is strip human actions down to the bare idiosyncrasy which is where the humor is often hiding. Just open it up and enjoy the fun ride.
God himself reminded me of a less intense version of George W. Bush. Clueless, privileged, destructively powerful, he doesn't care much about humanity or Earth for that matter. In fact, he is much more excited about opening the Asian fusion restaurant the day after the end of the Earth than he ever was about human beings. He is kind of sweet and even fun but his limitations also impact the novel because he can't make too much of an impact on the action or his vague and out-of-touch persona would be hard to maintain. As a result the novel becomes a sketch comedy that can barely sustain itself for it's short span.
To call the novel a satire is pushing it. Yes, God is the out-of-touch CEO of a pointless corporation but not too much is made of that fact. It seems like a send up of Google and that company is actually mentioned making the send up rather obvious. The bigger point that could have been made, is that nothing escapes capitalism's grasp but that isn't even addressed. This is a novel of small ambition in that regard but as a light, fun, engaging read, the book works. And given that we are talking about "God" here, that is no small feat.
The story centers around Craig and Eliza, two Angels working for God at Heaven, Inc. They find themselves in a situation where they have one month to save the Earth from God's wrath by performing a miracle of their choosing. As we follow their quest, Rich sprinkles the story with funny anecdotes demonstrating just how silly human beings can be. What do we pray for? How are these prayers prioritized? How might one's prayer adversely affect another? Again, it seems a simple premise but there are some uncomfortable truths beneath it.
I finished this book in a day, and it was a really nice break. It is a fun read that had me laughing out loud at some points, it also made me consider What in God's Name we do here on Earth. And it also reveals God's favorite band, which I have always wanted to know. All in all, this is a highly recommended fast read to take your mind off your worries for a little while.