American Gospel

Lin Enger. Univ. of Minnesota, $24.95 (248p) ISBN 978-1-5179-1054-9
Enger (The High Divide) sets this potent novel in mid-1970s Battlepoint, Minn., where pious preacher Enoch, leader of a religious commune, has collapsed. After Enoch is revived, he claims an angel visited him to announce a rapturous biblical prophecy, in which Jesus Christ will appear to “snatch up all true believers” on Enoch’s land in two weeks’ time. Enoch’s vision propels much of the plot, into which Enger dexterously adds Enoch’s son, Peter, a struggling 30-something Manhattan journalist hoping to cover President Nixon’s anticipated resignation, and Melanie, a Hollywood starlet and boyhood love of Peter’s, whom Enoch convinces to travel to Battlepoint to participate in the communal pilgrimage to the place now known as “Ground Jesus.” Word of Melanie’s sojourn spreads quickly across the celebrity newswires, sparking a media frenzy and a poignant epic showdown at the zero hour. Enger takes on a lot, from playing on the momentum and the mysteries of religious prognostication to the innate familial allegiance between prophetic father and skeptical son, and for the most part it ties together, though readers may feel the primary characters are a bit underdeveloped. Still, Enger effectively expands on themes of belonging and blind devotion as a group of true believers face their final day of reckoning. While Enger doesn’t reach the height he seeks, there is plenty of apocalyptic excitement. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/13/2020
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-1-4529-6572-7
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