The Book of Harold is as profound and deeply respectful a novel as it is irreverent in its wild, often hilarious take on a modern messianic movement in suburbia. The titular and sometimes exasperating hero of this masterful satire is Harold Peeks, a middle-aged suburbanite living a lonely if typical modern life in the outskirts of Houston, Texas. His world feels bland and pointless until one evening at a mundane office party he announces to his stunned co-workers that he is the Second Coming of Christ. Oddly enough, people start to believe him.
Blake Waterson, Harold's closest friend and narrator of the novel, is as skeptical as anyone of this disheveled and disconcertingly bawdy Savior and yet this would-be Judas is compelled to follow Harold on his two-hundred mile walking journey to Austin with a mismatched group of equally puzzled disciples. On the road, this motley crew of witnesses to the holy get to experience misguided converts, violent possums, and the ungrateful recipients of off-kilter healings. They also discover the inherent paradoxes, absurdities, and dangers of spirituality, as they learn that saviors may not have all the answers, and humanity is just as bizarre and beautiful as the beliefs we hold.
|Publisher:||Soft Skull Press, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.55(w) x 8.18(h) x 0.67(d)|
About the Author
Owen Egerton has had a varied yet illustrious career, having worked as a secret fast food inspector, an on-air home shopping host, and a para-church youth leader. He was the co-creator of the award-winning The Sinus Show at the Alamo Drafthouse Theater, and for several years was the artistic director of Austin’s National Comedy Theatre. He currently writes screenplays and performs standup comedy. He lives in Austin.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Owen Egerton's latest, "The Book of Harold, The Illegitimate Son of God" thoughtfully, humorously, and compassionately calls life's meaning into question. Reading it, I was reminded to consider the possibilities that every homeless man might be Christ or at least Christ-like, that the guy in the next cubicle could be mentally ill, and also that Judas may have gotten a bad rap. Besides being thought-provoking, it also summons virtually the full spectrum of human emotion. Reading some pages, I found myself laughing out loud, while others made me want to cry. Told from the point of view of Haroldian Blake Waterson, The Book of Harold, The Illegitimate Son of God relates the philosophy of Harold Peeks, introduced as Blake's coworker and "Second Assistant Sales Analyst" at Promit Computers. Blake documents in vivid detail the travels the two pursue after Harold takes the opportunity of a company banquet to announce that he is, in fact, "Christ, the Son of God." Blake, a middle aged computer salesman, resists Harold at first, but then soon willingly participates in the unraveling of his own picture perfect life. It's that same kind of life which many a suburbanite will confess is never as perfect as it seems. The dinner party scene is uncannily realistic, and brilliantly walks a fine line of satire without verging on ridiculousness. It's clever examination of a lifestyle but without cruel judgment. Egerton finds a way to describe things we all seem to think and feel, yet most of us don't say, sometimes not even to ourselves. Unlike most of us would do, Blake decides to follow Harold on a walk from a Houston suburb to Austin. Blake transforms from computer peddler to disciple, and the journey is as much inward as it is across Texas. As Blake moves forward from Figwood to Austin, he experiences a personal evolution. The story that unfolds is an old one, but from this insider's view, it's one you probably won't recognize until you are completely personally invested. The structure of the novel evokes Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, flashing back and forth between time frames, but without confusing. Like life, the story simultaneously unfolds on the surface and on a much deeper level. When you read it -because you should -you'll understand the mystery of it much better. While you're pondering the symbolism, and wondering who Jesus would have been without Judas, you're concurrently empathizing with Blake as he and his family try to cope with his Haroldism. You will come to feel for the other disciples, such as Irma and Beddy, and enjoy the little detours into each character's story, as well as into Blake's past. Blake's witty inner monologue through even the disturbing scenes and heartbreaking moments gives the novel a dark humor reminiscent of a Wes Anderson flick. Mostly, Blake seems real. I felt like he was someone I knew, and strangely, also someone who knew me.