In Taylor’s debut novel, a down-to-earth guy is swept up in a berserk afterlife adventure.
The author first introduces the recently deceased 43-year-old Walter Matthews as he waits in line to meet with a bearded desk clerk, St. Peter. His surroundings, however, differ from the traditional idea of the Pearly Gates. Instead of one St. Peter, there are endless rows of desk-clerk St. Peters, and infinite lines of souls waiting for judgment. From this unorthodox depiction of purgatory, Taylor launches into a highly idiosyncratic imagining of the afterlife: Heaven is a sort of whimsical business headquarters, in which angels are stereotypical, seductive secretaries; God is the “Designer and CEO of All Creation” and Jesus is the vice president. As Wally confers with his designated Peter, Lucifer, a goony, self-amused villain, steals a jar from the desk containing “the Saints.” Wally, the sole witness of the crime, is immediately involved in a mission to recover the kidnapped saints. The wacky adventure snowballs out of control, though, after God is kidnapped and Wally must assist a heavenly team to recover him. Following the plot requires readers to have plenty of imaginative flexibility, but Taylor’s concept of heaven and beyond is certainly original. However, the novel isn’t recommended for the seriously religious; God, for example, is portrayed as a boisterous, mischievous creative director, and Jesus as a tattooed, chain-smoking wayward son. However, in much the same vein as the Comedy Central series South Park, no group is spared from satirical depiction. The afterlife’s atheists spend their days convincing themselves that they’re just imagining it, and even Gandhi is shown to be self-serving. Taylor also attempts to depict atrocious historical villains, such as Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden, as Lucifer’s comical, and even lamentably pathetic, cronies; however, their crude depictions don’t quite follow through with a clever punch line.
A black comedy about religion and the afterlife, written like a blockbuster action film.