A while ago, i was forwarded a pdf copy of the novel American Idol by its author S.C. Hayden, asking me to read it and give it a review on the site. As this hadn’t happened before, i was happy to oblige. It’s an excellent read. This is a sprawaling and subversively funny satire centered around two down-on-their-luck entrepreneurs who stumble upon the idea of reviving for-profit idolatry. Selling statues of household gods to the masses, and building a neo-pagan religion around it. That business plan proves an explosive success, like a telepod fusion of The Secret and Pokemon, transforming the lives of the two protagonists and the world around them, while putting them in the crosshairs of more established religions, who turn out to be viciously territorial.
I can offer no higher praise than to say that American Idol reads like a Richard Kelly movie. It feels like such a kindred spirit to his magnificently weird Southland Tales, it could almost serve as the sequel we’ll never get. Hayden has a very cinematic prose style, and a fearless sense of humor reminiscent of the works of P.F.F.R. -if you could laugh at Xavier: Renegade Angel or Wonder Showzen, i think you’d find this on the same wavelength.
Does it mock religion? Yes, quite a bit, amongst other things. How did i feel about that, as a born and bred Roman Catholic? Well, i doubt any work of fiction could do more to undermine confidence in western religion than the child rapes by priests, or the church’s non-reaction to the issue until it started costing them money. My faith in the underlying concepts remains, but the man-made organizations built to capitalize on those concepts have already been laid bare as no more divine than any other bureaucracy. (I was going to mention the weird sadness i felt returning to my hometown in Texas after a good 11 year absence, at all the fucking gigantic mega-churches that had popped up in the interim, many with variations of Abundance or Prosperity in the name…but i think sexual predators trump overt, exploitive commercialism.)
So, yeah…excellent read, definitely recommended, and doubly worth a look if you want bragging rights for having read it before it gets optioned, which I’d bet on (if Pride & Prejudice & Zombies can get studio money, no reason this shouldn’t.) You can get the book via Amazon here, or find the author’s site here. (Full disclosure: Aside from the free book, this review was not paid for in any way. I have no stake in the book’s sales. I don’t even have an amazon affiliate account.)
Will i review your book/movie/comic/action figure/game/app/shirt/etc? Yes. Emphatic Yes. You get it to me, i will give it all due consideration, and post my thoughts with relevant links back to you/your product. Is that worth anything? I honestly don’t know, but it’s cheap exposure to a respectably-sized audience…check my quantcast number, it’s been trending up.
No, a free copy doesn’t guarantee a positive review, but if i like something i tend to be effusive, and if i don’t like something, i’m usually not a miserable asshole about it.
New pics up later today.