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Mission to America


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About the Author

Walter Kirn is a contributing editor to Time and GQ and a regular reviewer for The New York Times Book Review. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, New York, and Esquire. He is the author of four previous works of fiction: My Hard Bargain: Stories, She Needed Me, Thumbsucker, and Up in the Air. He lives in Livingston, Montana.


The Montana-based Aboriginal Fulfilled Apostles have segregated themselves from the rest of the country to follow their beliefs more effectively, but now they need new blood-specifically women-to help keep the group from dying out. So Apostles members Mason Plato LaVerle and Elder Stark head off into modern America, handing out leaflets at malls, meeting young Wiccans at diners, and generally trying to convince folks to give up their lives, move to a remote Montana town, and follow the tenets of the Seeress, the leader of the Apostles. While on this seemingly impossible mission, Mason and Elder are quickly seduced by modern living, especially once they hit an overpriced Colorado ski town and run into the rich and indolent. Mason falls for a beauty who used to pose nude for porn web sites, while Stark begins to live on a ranch with a billionaire who has many and sundry health problems. In his latest novel, Kirn (Thumbsucker) takes an interesting look at contemporary life from two outsiders' perspectives. Looking at America this way raises many questions about belief, consumerism, and what we call modern life. Recommended for most public libraries, though given the buzz surrounding the film version of Thumbsucker, there could be wide demand.-Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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 TerrestriaAaka 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) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"An insightful and drolly funny tale that skewers and celebrates contemporary American life." -San Francisco Chronicle"Mark Twain meets Jonathan Franzen in Mission to America, Walter Kirn's dark, funny road novel." -Maxim"Hilarious. . . . Kirn doesn't miss a chance to skewer consumerism, New Ageism, and ski-town magnates. The barbs are spot-on and the apostles, with their naivet? about everything from Cheetos and Wiccans to reality TV, are hopelessly endearing." -People"Kirn's fourth novel is his most ambitious. . . . A tour de force." -The New York Times Book Review"Thank goodness that Walter Kirn, one of the nation's best satirists, has made a funny, wise little novel. . . . A sly, tender, witty, probing of the nature of religious conviction." -The Plain Dealer

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