Evangellyfish by Douglas Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As you wipe your feet before entering the house, here I shall open with a confession: when I was introduced to the writings of Douglas Wilson, I didn't like them. I have gone this far, allow me to go further: having all the literary discretion of a vacuum cleaner and taste located solely in my mouth, I owned, read, re-read and enjoyed books that shall not here be named, but were written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.
Now that my ethos lies in a smouldering ruin, allow me to say that my appreciation for Wilson's writing has increased enormously over the years. But even with this confession, there is simply no denying that Evangellyfish is the high-water mark of his writing: from the dedication onward it is absolutely hilarious, fluctuating from wry cynicism to popping optimism, lightly flippant without sacrificing depth; all in all, wholly refreshing. It skips around from character to character with an obviously deep affection for all of them, and the entire story is heavily scented with grandpa's whiskey cavendish, deep belly-laughs, and a warm, easy humour. The shift from perspective to perspective is smooth as a jazz progression, and there's nary a two dimensional character to be found, from the twitterpated bellhop to the drily cynical priest that doesn't even appear in the story, every person has depth, warmth, and a certain level of sympathy. It is a sheer, racing delight to read, packed with Wodehouse and Chesterton, Lewis and Mencken, and--dare I say it?--deeply rooted in the blues.
On a side note, any of you who read the story when he began posting it chapter by chapter will be, as the KJV would say, astonied. Not only is everything better and lighter, the ending creates a new world. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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