Sturgeon (1918-85) reportedly labored for 18 years on this slight but often lyrical parable; the writing does possess the intense, radiant warmth of his best work--but some of the old flaws (fuzziness at critical points, an irritating juvenile feel) are present too. Godbody, a reincarnation of Christ, appears in the woods; first to encounter him is the Reverend Dan Currier. After a single touch from Godbody, Currier's wellsprings of faith are renewed; as an expression of this, he returns home to make ecstatic love with his gorgeous wife. Other characters undergo similar transformations: town dogsbody Melissa Franck finds her true self; slimeball and rapist Hobo Wellen discovers tenderness; cold-hearted banker Andrew Merriweather receives a revelation. Only the local gossip, manipulator and thoroughgoing bitch Mrs. Mayhew, resists Godbody, and finally shoots him dead. Those whom Godbody has touched bury him in a cave; Godbody rises from the dead, heals the blind, and at last proceeds to his next mission, leaving the faithful with his message--""Love one another!""--and the strength to resist and defeat evil. Readers are obliged to take Godbody's miraculous ""touch"" on faith; consequently several of the character transformations lack plausibility. Still, all Sturgeon fans will want to experience his thin but joyous last will and testament.