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Silly exercise in metafiction by newcomer Bryan, who offers a lengthy afterword to a nonexistent novel about a deity named Blaine.

Perhaps Bryan has been reading a lot of Borges lately—or maybe he’s just gotten lazy. Instead of writing an actual novel, he has written a novel about a novel he never wrote, recalling (or, shall we say, fantasizing about) its plot (the narrator discovers that his next-door neighbor is God), its publication (as The Deity Next Door), and its tremendous success (more weeks at the top of the New York Times bestseller list than The Bridges of Madison County). For Christians, the idea that God could be a human being is mysterious but familiar—but how about the idea of God as a New Yorker named Blaine? Blaine lives in an apartment in London Terrace on West 24th Street in Manhattan, and he has a wife named Melanie and a son named Timmie. The narrator (named Mike Bryan) also lives in London Terrace, and he knows God—er, Blaine—from around the neighborhood in a Seinfeld kind of way (they both enjoy watching the late-night antics of a zaftig girl next door who doesn’t bother to pull the blinds when she has company). Timmie develops cancer but goes into remission. Blaine visits a local priest, Father Harris, to announce that he is God, and Harris asks him for a sign. All kinds of stuff go on. Bryan (as author, that is, not narrator) was really surprised by how well The Deity Next Door sold, and he probably had good reason to be: It sounds like the kind of title that gets remaindered within the year. This one does, too.

Pretty dreadful, but it could have been worse: Bryan might actually have written The Deity Next Door as well.

Pub Date: March 18th, 2003
ISBN: 0-375-42212-9
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2003


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