Anthony Spencer is egotistical, proud of being a self-made business success at the peak of his game, even though the cost of winning was painfully high. A cerebral hemorrhage leaves Tony comatose in a hospital ICU. He 'awakens' to find himself in a surreal world, a 'living' landscape that mirrors dimensions of his earthly life, from the beautiful to the corrupt. It is here that he has vivid interactions with others he assumes are projections of his own subconscious, but whose directions he follows nonetheless with the possibility that they might lead to authenticity and perhaps, redemption. The adventure draws Tony into deep relational entanglements where he is able to 'see' through the literal eyes and experiences of others, but is "blind" to the consequences of hiding his personal agenda and loss that emerge to war against the processes of healing and trust. Will this unexpected coalescing of events cause Tony to examine his life and realize he built a house of cards on the poisoned grounds of a broken heart? Will he also have the courage to make a critical choice that can undo a major injustice he set in motion before falling into a coma?
I'm not sure what to say about this book. It's a bit existential for me in a number of places. And I would even consider it a little too intellectual and high falutin'. But having said that, I liked a lot of it. I especially liked the parts where he's in various bodies in the real world. The people he's inhabiting know he's in there. And they can talk to him and hear him (even though nobody else can). Those situations produced a lot of humor and a fair amount of poignancy. But when he's in the other realm, talking to Jesus and the Holy Ghost ("Grandmother"), then I didn't like it nearly as much. I understand the religious basis for a redemption story but am not a big fan of religion as the controlling factor in a storyline (was that too blasphemous?). But in another bit of irony, I liked when he encounters many of his faults in that other realm, who are embodied in people that he has to face. I'm obviously confused by it all!
Have I shed any light on this book? Or how I feel about it? No? Don't worry, it's me, not you. I definitely liked some parts of it more than others. Did I like the religious elements? Not so much. Was there a fair amount of emotional manipulation? Perhaps. I still gave it a 3/4. It doesn't measure up to Goodreads (3.92/5) or Amazon (4.5/5), but it's still a decent rating. I don't know if the same can be said for this review!
DIFFENBAUGH ON TOUR: I already told you that Vanessa has a new book coming out on August 18. But I found out over the weekend that she will be coming to A Great Good Place for Books on Thursday night, August 20. I WILL BE THERE!