A young man seeks religion with the risk of ruin in Tingle’s debut novel.
In the early 1960s, an unnamed man with a family and a career begins an affair with a young woman named Marie. When his wife finds out and he’s forced to end the affair, he attempts, and fails, to overdose on prescription pills. As he recovers, he finds himself drawn toward a spiritual calling he does not fully understand. With the country falling into the turmoil of the late ’60s, he abandons his wife and children and enrolls in a seminary to find a path to God. Along the way, the narrator meets a cast of extraordinary people; some want to hinder his quest, others want to be a part of it. He continues to deny himself earthly pleasures and spends his time trying to determine when the world will end. With the surprising return of his daughter into his life, this tormented man is forced to look at the world outside his window to gauge whether he has made a terrible mistake. While the story is meant to call attention to blind and destructive devotion to religion, the unnamed hero’s search becomes repetitive rather than informative. The story shifts between journallike descriptions of his day-to-day existence and the narrator’s assessments of current events, frequently pinning blame for current turmoil on homosexuals and other “Satanic” forces. Alongside the protagonist’s quest to mathematically calculate the year the world will end, these disturbing opinions are dropped in casually as Tingle successfully depicts a deranged man. The story drags, however, with gaps between action and little resolution in his quest to calculate the rapture.
A search for the divine that could use a map.