Although he seems like the other guys at the Jake Fuller Moving Company, something is different about Bobby Kennedy, the affable loner who bears a curious resemblance to the slain public servant of the same name. Through miracles, including levitating heavy furniture and changing water into beer, Bobby convinces his co-workers that he is indeed the second coming of the ``first brother.'' However, the gods who have returned Bobby to earth ruled that while he can feed hungry prisoners and read people's thoughts, he is forbidden to touch the world of those he left behind. When he defies this by gunning for a mobster he believes killed his brother Jack, the gods punish him in a familiar fashion by allowing earthly forces to decide his fate. Bobby is imprisoned and must relive the tragedies of Life One, while suffering the indignities of Life Two. Eventually, the gods forgive Bobby. But before his ascension, he returns to the world long enough to spread his own slightly fatalistic take on the gospel. An interesting blend of messianic novel and Kennedy tell-all, Gordon's debut can entertain and provoke, but it is somewhat undermined by its heavy-handed use of biblical imagery. (Oct . )
It's a premise that would make the staff at "Weekly World News" blush: the gods, unable to make up their minds on an appropriate spot for eternity, have sent Bobby Kennedy back to Earth to live and work in Seattle as a moving man. Bobby isn't allowed to contact his family, but he is given a little magic--the ability to levitate particularly cumbersome bureaus out of a moving van and onto the sidewalk, for example. We hear this latest slice of Kennedy life from a not particularly reliable narrator, former moving man turned (again) petty thief Stanley V. Higgins, who knew Bobby only briefly when the ex-senator returned to work after escaping from prison. While in lockup, Bobby refuses to eat, and his life--from child to senator, from cavorting with John to cavorting with Marilyn Monroe--plays out slowly and painfully in his mind. There are some cruel touches here--a prison guard lusting after Bobby--but, on the whole, the novel is a whimsical fantasy, well written and agreeably quirky. Winner of the 1993 King County Arts Commission Publication Award for Fiction.
In a nimble, electrifying debut, Seattle-based Gordon uses his experience as a mover and as a writing teacher in Washington prisons to spin the yarn to end all Kennedy yarns—with Bobby reincarnated as a frustrated but sincere working-class hero. For Stanley Higgins, jack-of-all-trades and perpetrator of the occasional misdeed, Bobby Kennedy was both a wonder and his partner—well worth the trouble it would take to record his short but memorable stint as a moving man. Doubts about the veracity of Bobby's claim to be an unhappy reincarnation of the former attorney general and presidential candidate are dispelled when he begins to levitate furniture from the truck and shrink it to fit in tight corners. His misery at knowing that his real assassin may never be caught is compounded when he meets a woman in a bookstore and is spurned by her for his retrograde chauvinism. An attempt to brainwash her leads to the loss of his magic; in frustration he lashes out at the Mafia boss who had his brother killed, only to wind up in prison himself, the target of the sadistic guard Gerbil. In solitary confinement, he becomes an unwilling viewer of inner visions that focus tirelessly on the errors of his former life (having been the direct cause of Marilyn Monroe's death not least among them), giving him no peace until he repents—whereupon his powers return and he escapes. Bobby works a final miracle before an audience of schoolchildren, ascending to heaven before their eyes after delivering a piano. A rollicking, full-barrelled fantasy in which the foibles of dead Kennedys are as much a subject of caustic wit as more fictional material might be: a hard act to follow.