Price offers a debut novel about the calamitous life of a 35-year-old American man studying to become a deacon in the Catholic Church.
Gilmore Funnel is a “reluctant Christian” and regards himself as being exceptionally unlucky, with a “long list of…mental problems.” His friend, a missionary, was killed in a far-off land, his marriage has failed, and he’s prone to scalding himself while drinking coffee. Despite his wavering faith in God, he drifts toward becoming a deacon, after which he’ll no longer be allowed to marry and must abstain from sex. Enter Lisa, a strange and beguiling 19-year-old girl who works with him at a preschool. After Gilmore nervously invites her for coffee, they form an unusual bond of mutual trust, and Lisa confides to Gilmore that she’s unable to have an orgasm. Gilmore seeks to remedy this by gifting her a copy of the book You and Your Orgasm, and they soon begin to work through the sexual exercises together. Lisa tells Gilmore not to fall in love with her, which is wise given the fact that she has an angry, protective father and an even angrier boyfriend. But Gilmore’s predicament becomes even more precarious when Monsignor Freeman suggests that he become a priest. This novel has a bright, original, and engaging storyline that’s both amusing and bewildering. The author offers refreshing turns of phrase and a delightful eye for detail, as when he describes a pharmacist who “blinked several times from behind her contact lens, the outline of which, was as delicate as a fissure in a gemstone.” However, when uncontrolled, the prose can become prolix and tedious: “A miasma of carbons churns in the air causing a magnification of the Burger King which sets on property formerly owned by the seminary and which was sold to finance a new chair in hermeneutics.” Typos also appear throughout: “One has only to Imagine a shimmering tarmac In an equatorial country.” Yet, despite the novel’s need for a more thorough copy edit, it does show a curiously captivating imagination at work—and a promising literary talent.
A flawed but fascinating examination of love, trust, faith, and self-perception.