Rock star and soap actor–turned-author Springfield (Late, Late at Night, 2010) debuts with fiction best classified as black comedy.
This novel is remarkably creative, for no other reason than Springfield boggles with countless euphemisms for male reproductive organs, masturbation and the act of sexual procreation. Sex, comedy and metaphysics pose a conundrum: Who listens when God speaks? Bobby Cotton for one—hapless nerd, Los Angeles sound editor, recently divorced cuckold. Next it’s Alice Young, reluctant religious novitiate, and, finally, Lexington Vargas, prominent Mexican doctor’s son and now redeemed gangster. Bobby’s life has been an "obsession with the female species and the whole, odd tie to organized religion." Shuttled aside by quarreling parents, Bobby deeply loved his sister, lost first to mental illness and then cancer, the narrative element most emotionally affecting. Fumbling about after his divorce, Bobby steals a self-help book called Magnificent Vibration. Inside is a penciled note: "1-800-Call-God." Bobby dials and becomes convinced he’s speaking to God, who in fact prefers to be called Omnipotent Supreme Being but will settle for Arthur. OSB has "a rather incongruous and off-putting sense of humor," which means Bobby complies when told to get a cup of coffee. There, he meets Alice and then Lexington. Both have a copy of the book, and inside each copy is the same telephone number. While Lexington seems flat and present mainly as a plot catalyst, Springfield can write believable characters, his best being Bobby and Alice. The narrative bounces from the present to Bobby’s examination of his life and then to conversations with God, who is upset with war and pollution in the universe, all ending in Scotland with Alice, the reluctant nun. Springfield delivers a buckle-your-seat-belts ride, referencing the Loch Ness monster, superheroes, schlock films, Christian fundamentalism, sexual repression, the Pacific garbage patch and existentialist fatalism.
A readable comic meditation on human frailty.