Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lord Vishnu's Love Handles

Lord Vishnu's Love Handles: A Spy Novel (Sort Of) by Will Clarke.
Tantor Media (2005), Edition: Unabridged, Audio CD

The story veers sci-fi'ish - Travis Anderson can see into the future, random things like knowing before the phone rings that it is his mother-in-law calling or beating the computer all day long guessing the color of the cow's udders on (yes, they created the site as a promotional tool, and you can do it all day long too if you're so inclined).

So when he has dreams that his wife is doing his business partner, he believes it even though he's got no concrete proof something is going on. His wife it turns out is pregnant (is the child his or not, we never find out till the end). And if things can't get better, they really shouldn't get any get any worse - Travis' alcoholism gets out of hand and he starts seeing the blue skinned dude, the eponymous Vishnu of the title; his firm is audited and it is discovered that Reed Bindler, his partner has been swindling IRS of money and they collectively owe Uncle Sam something to the tune of 5 million dollars. IRS ropes in Travis to do psychic work for them in exchange for forgiving the 5 million debt. How he encounters enough dark forces for a lifetime and comes to love his wife and family in spite of her obvious promiscuity forms the rest of the book.

Part of the problem with the book is the use of dreams, visions and other such hooey as literary devices. It just stretches the imagination a little too tenuous, so I cannot imagine anyone other than a die-hard sci-fi fan actually enjoying the book. On the other hand, once I realized this book was more sci-fi and potty humor, I stopped expecting anything like religion or spirituality, so finding it was a pleasant surprise. The spirituality Travis Anderson ends up espousing is part Hindu, part mysticism. There're very Hindu concepts - for example both the dark forces, represented by the characters Ikshu and SageRat, and the light forces (Travis himself) work for the same master - the US government.

More interesting is the fact that this book was a breakout book on Will Clarke went from being a self-publisher to having his book picked up by Simon and Schuster. Who says self-publishing has to be the ugly redheaded stepchild to traditional publishing? Not Will Clarke who's laughing all the way to the bank with the optioning of this book by Hollywood. (Refer the exclusive interview with Lord Vishnu - it gives a glimpse into Clarke's thinking) This is a funny book, a little sophomorish (genre bending some reviewers on Amazon said - big No to that.) But to his credit, Clarke takes on some existential questions.

(Review crossposted on LibraryThing)

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