Tuesdays with Morrie meets Caddyshack: A 50-year-old Everyman plays miracle golf with history’s biggest cheeses—Moses to Joan of Arc to T.S. Eliot—in this whimsical debut novel.
Atop a gurney, heading toward Boston Mass General OR, Elliott Goodman is in trouble. He just knows it: He’s having a heart attack! As non-religious Goodman, a professor of comparative literature and a good-enough husband and dad to two kids, finds himself praying, who should appear in the “flesh” but God Himself, in a burgundy golf shirt and tan Dockers. Entreated for mercy, Yahweh offers a deal: Win 18 holes of golf and you’ll get your life back. Plucky Goodman agrees, and hits the links. The ever-merciful God sends humans to play against him. But what humans! First up is Leonardo Da Vinci, playing with gnarly wood clubs (it was Mona Lisa Man, we learn, not some nameless Scot, who invented the putter). W.C. Fields is next, and Mitchell brilliantly captures the great comic’s word-zest; Fields sputters surreally like a drunken thesaurus. As Goodman goes mano-a-mano with John Lennon (whose game is all about love), Freud, the Mahatma, Edgar Allan Poe, Socrates and illustrious others, he learns lots about golf, but even more about, natch, himself. Chockful of notable quotables from the heavy-hitters of all time, this is a kind of greatest-hits of the world’s wisdom traditions—each aphorism served up entertainingly.
A wholly charming hole-in-one.