Miracles, Inc.

T.J. Forrester, Simon & Schuster, $15 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-4391-7558-3
The rise and fall of a ne'er-do-well–turned–preacher fuels Forrester's promising debut. Waiting to be executed in a Florida prison, Vernon Oliver reluctantly agrees to write his autobiography at the request of his attorney, who hopes to sell it to cover Vernon's legal fees. His story begins 11 years earlier, in 1997, living in an RV park and working for Tabernacle Carnival, a shady Holy Roller church. His girlfriend, Rickie, sells Bibles, and the two are content to mostly get high and play Scrabble until carnival owner Miriam MacKenzie sees epic televangelist potential in Vernon and packs him off to religious boot camp where Vernon meets the actors who will receive his "healing" touch. Soon he's taking the stage in pyrotechnic displays of Jesus-loving fervor, amid cries of blasphemy from other Pentecostal leaders and a crumbling relationship with Rickie. While alternating between Vernon's autobiography leading up to the act that lands him on death row and his life in prison is a structural choice that mostly pays off, the depiction of life in prison suffers compared to the inventiveness of Vernon's life as a sham faith healer. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/25/2010
Release date: 02/01/2011
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