Mission to America

Walter Kirn, Author . Doubleday $23.95 (271p) ISBN 978-0-385-50764-6

Various co-existing Americas get a bitter, resonant jibing from Kirn (Thumbsucker ) in his latest fiction of decadent culture on the skids. Founded in the 19th century, the Aboriginal Fulfilled Apostles are a doctrinal smorgasbord of health food enthusiasm, Swedenborgism, matriarchy and semicommunal living. Isolated in Bluff, Mont., the group is dying out, so its only prosperous member, Ennis Lauer, finances some missionary work to Terrestria—aka the on-the-grid U.S. Narrator Mason Plato LaVerle is plucked from his ongoing courtship of young Sarah to trawl for converts with the (as it turns out) tragically temptable Elder Stark. As he and Elder drive through Wyoming, Elder is introduced to crank by a decrepit dealer, and Mason is introduced to sex by a 15-year-old Wiccan. In the Aspen-like Snowshoe, Colo., the two fall into the circle around Errol Effingham Sr., a billionaire constructed mainly of bogus takes on Ayn Rand and a bad stomach, while Mason falls for the lovely Becky, whose former incarnation can still be viewed with a triple-X mouse click. Mason's flat voice, which levels everything to a certain calm, makes overconsumption and dissipation seem funny again. This may be the Livingston, Mont.–based Kirn's best work yet. Agent, Cynthia Cannell . (On sale Oct.11)

Reviewed on: 07/25/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
Open Ebook - 169 pages - 978-0-307-27855-5
Paperback - 271 pages - 978-1-4000-3101-6
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-385-51681-5
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