cover image The Snake Oil Wars or Scheherazade Ginsberg Strikes Again

The Snake Oil Wars or Scheherazade Ginsberg Strikes Again

Parke Godwin. Broadway Books, $15 (228pp) ISBN 978-0-385-26350-4

Godwin follows his brash and brittle satire, Waiting for the Galactic Bus , with an all-out attack on evangelists. Elaborating on Galactic 's premise that intelligent life on Earth resulted from the caprices of two bored, alien schoolboys, Barion and Coyul, this sequel proposes an afterlife vaguely modeled on Christian visions of heaven and hell. Preacher Lance Candor throws a bomb at Coyul, whom many humans suppose to be the Devil. The ensuing trial becomes a media event, a circus of demagoguery and a forum for Godwin's mouthpieces to argue that any intrusion of the church into affairs of state violates the freedoms granted by the American Constitution. Godwin's tart humor resonates through his burgeoning cast of caricatures and celebrity walk-ons: a barely disguised L. Ron Hubbard is incarnated as an answering machine; Dorothy Parker ghost-writes the autobiography of a Tammy Bakker stand-in; and prosecutor Abraham Lincoln, incognito here as Joshua Speed (and described as ``an ugly Henry Fonda''), calls Jesus as an expert witness. (Aug.)