Divine Misfortune

Divine Misfortune

by A. Lee Martinez

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Teri and Phil had never needed their own personal god. But when Phil is passed up for a promotion - again - it's time to take matters into their own hands. And look online.

Choosing a god isn't as simple as you would think. There are too many choices; and they often have very hefty prices for their eternal devotion: blood, money, sacrifices, and vows of chastity. But then they find Luka, raccoon god of prosperity. All he wants is a small cut of their good fortune.

Oh - and to crash on their couch for a few days.

DIVINE MISFORTUNE is a story of gods and mortals - in worship, in love, and at parties.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316049924
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: 04/01/2011
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

A. Lee Martinez was born in El Paso, Texas. At the age of eighteen, for no apparent reason, he started writing novels. Thirteen short years (and a little over a dozen manuscripts) later, his first novel, Gil's All Fright Diner, was published. His hobbies include juggling, games of all sorts, and astral projecting. Also, he likes to sing along with the radio when he's in the car by himself. For more information on the author, check out www.aleemartinez.com

Read an Excerpt

Divine Misfortune

By Martinez, A. Lee


Copyright © 2010 Martinez, A. Lee
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316041270


“Hello. My name is Anubis. I like long walks on the beach, carrying departed souls into the underworld, and the cinema of Mr. Woody Allen.”

Wincing, Teri pushed the PAUSE button. “Oh, ick.”

“What? What’s wrong with this one?” After an hour of watching Internet videos, Phil’s patience was wearing thin. It seemed no god would be good enough for his wife.

“Look at him,” she said. “He’s got a dog head.”

“Jackal,” corrected Phil. “It’s a jackal head.”

She frowned. “Eww. That’s even worse.”

“How is that worse?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. It just is. I mean, dogs are nice, at least. But jackals… who has anything nice to say about them?”

“He isn’t a jackal, honey,” he said, with an edge on the term of endearment. “He just has a jackal head.” He loved his wife dearly, but she was making this difficult. If it had been up to him, he’d just pick one. Any old low-maintenance god would’ve worked.

“But what about that cinema of Mr. Woody Allen line?”

“You like Woody Allen,” countered Phil.

“Yes, I like him. But who says cinema?”

“Now you’re just nitpicking.”

“But it’s important. The words someone chooses say a lot about them. And people who say cinema are pretentious.”

He rolled his eyes. “He’s a god. He’s allowed to be pretentious.”

“Not my god. No, thank you.”

Phil scrolled through Anubis’s profile. “He’s a pretty good find. I think we should sign up with him while we can.”

Teri looked at him coldly. She didn’t use the look a lot, but it meant there was no changing her mind. He didn’t feel like fighting about it anyway. There were plenty of other gods. Somewhere in the hundreds of listed profiles, there had to be one she couldn’t find anything wrong with.

She was right. It wasn’t a decision to be taken lightly. The string of events that had led him to peruse the digital pages of Pantheon.com, the Internet’s second-largest deity matching service, hadn’t made him forget that.

First had been the promotion. Another one passing him over. The fourth opening in as many months. Instead, that kiss-ass Bob had taken Phil’s step up the corporate ladder. Phil had been practicing his brownnosing and was damn good at it. Better than Bob. So good in fact that Phil had actually swallowed his outrage and walked up to Bob’s new corner office to congratulate his new boss.

He’d found Bob, chanting in Sumerian, hunched over a small altar.

“Hey, Phil.” Bob, his face covered in black and red paint, smiled.

“Hello, sir,” replied Phil, trying his damnedest not to sound annoyed. “Didn’t mean to interrupt. I’ll come back later.”

“Oh, please. Don’t worry about it.” He made a casual sweeping gesture at the altar. “Five minutes won’t kill the old boy.”

Phil leaned in against the doorway, perched on the edge of Bob’s corner office with its plush carpeting and obnoxiously large desk clearly made from some rare and expensive wood that Phil couldn’t recognize but still resented. He tried not to notice the lovely view of the park just below.

“Something I can do for you?” asked Bob.

“Just wanted to say congratulations. You deserve it.”

“Thanks. Honestly, I’m surprised you didn’t get it. I thought for sure that fatted calf I offered ol’ Baal here wasn’t going to be enough. What did you offer?”


“Ah, that explains it. You know, it never hurts to stain the sacrificial altar now and then. Keeps the boys upstairs happy.”

“I don’t have one.” Phil crossed his arms tight enough to cut off the circulation. “An old boy, I mean.”

“Really?” A curious expression crossed Bob’s face, as if Phil had just admitted to being a cross-dressing jewel thief clown in his spare time. “You really should get one. They’re an absolute necessity. I don’t see how anyone gets along without some upstairs help.”

That alone wasn’t enough to push Phil into the decision.

On the car ride home, distracted by his worries, he’d been in a minor fender bender. The damage wasn’t serious, just a dented bumper and an ugly scrape to his paint job. But the other driver’s car didn’t have a scratch.

The other driver pulled out a special knife and ran it across his palm, drawing some blood to offer to his god as he incanted, “Blessed be Marduk, who keeps my insurance premiums down.”

Phil arrived home. As he pulled into the driveway, the first thing he noticed (the first thing he always noticed) was his lawn. It taunted him, a symbol of his promising life, once green and flourishing, now greenish and wilted. He watered and fertilized it. Had even brought in a specialist. But it was dying, and there was no way to stop it. He took comfort in the fact that nobody else in the neighborhood could get their grass to grow either. There was something in the soil, a lingering curse laid by Coyote on this spot of land for the injustices the Native Americans had suffered at the hands of the Europeans. The natives got smallpox, and the suburbs got yellowed grass. A light punishment for stealing a continent, Phil had to admit, but still annoying.

Except his next-door neighbor Ellen had a lush green lawn today.

Phil didn’t have to guess what had happened. The four-foot-high faux granite goddess statue told him everything he needed to know.

Ellen’s car pulled into her own driveway, and she noticed Phil eyeing the lawn.

“Pretty cool, huh?”

He stifled a scream. “I thought you already had a god. That weird one. The one with the horns and the nine arms.”

“Oh, sure. That’s still working out for me, but he’s a jealous old goat,” she said. “But he doesn’t do lawns. So I just hired an outside service. They stick up the statue, offer the tribute, and my god doesn’t get jealous and smite me dead. It’s a win-win.” Ellen knelt down and ran her hand across her lawn in an almost obscene manner. “That Demeter sure knows how to handle crabgrass, doesn’t she?”

And that was that. The next day Phil went online and signed up on Pantheon.com.

Teri was against the idea at first.

“You knew I didn’t want any gods before we were married,” she said. “We had a long talk about this.”

“I know, but—”

“My grandfather was killed by a desert god, y’know,” she said. “Just for cutting his hair.”

“I know, but—”

“In the end, they always get you, Phil. They always screw you over. Read your history.”

He took her in his arms. She offered some resistance, then hugged him back.

“Honey,” she said, “I know you’re frustrated with how things have been going lately, but I don’t think you’re thinking this through.”

“I am,” he said. “I’ve thought about it a lot, and it makes sense to me.”

She pulled away from him. “We’re not doing so bad, are we?”

Phil looked at his house. It wasn’t big, but it was big enough. They had the finest furniture IKEA could supply, a television larger than would have been sane ten years ago, and enough bric-a-brac and art hanging from the walls to keep Teri happy but not appear too cluttered. Although he could’ve done without the sailboat motif. Something he’d always found odd, considering he’d never heard Teri even talk about sailing once since he’d met her.

They were paying the bills, and they weren’t that far in debt. Not more than anyone else. And he had a wife who loved him. He knew it should’ve been enough. More than enough for any man.

It wasn’t. Not when any idiot willing to throw a lamb onto a pyre was able to get ahead while they struggled to make it. Everything would be great if they could just get a little divine intervention.

She turned her back to him. “I just think it’s a bad idea, Phil. That’s all.”

“Okay, tell you what. Let’s think about it for a couple more days. Will you at least promise me that you’ll think about it?”

“If that’s what you want.”

A week passed. Phil went online and watched clips of various gods. He even considered signing up with one in secret. Teri didn’t have to know. He could always keep the altar or shrine or whatever somewhere else. Maybe at a friend’s house. Or in the toolshed. He told himself that it would be a good thing, that it would improve their life, and that if Teri wasn’t signed up, too, then it would work out great for her since she’d get all the benefits without any of the obligations.

He couldn’t do it. Not behind her back. If they were going to do it, they needed to do it together or not at all. Teri would never budge on this issue, and maybe she was right. He already had a lot of responsibilities. He didn’t need any more. Especially responsibilities that involved temperamental deities who had a tendency to smite first and never even bother asking questions later. The longer he thought about it, the more he knew it had been a bad idea and that Teri had done him a big favor by talking him out of it. That was why he loved her. She had the common sense he didn’t.

The next day, she called him at work.

“Let’s do it.”

“Do what?” he asked.

“The god thing. Let’s do it.”

It took Phil a few moments to remember the debate, so far back had he pushed it in his mind. “But I thought you said you didn’t—”

“I didn’t. Not then. But I’ve changed my mind.”

“Oh yeah? Why is that?”

“I saw a cat come back from the dead today.”

“Okay.” Phil sat back. “I like cats, too, honey, but I don’t think that qualifies as a sign.”

“Just listen. I ran over the cat.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“Let me finish,” she said. “I got out and checked on it, but it was dead. Then this little girl who was watching came over and touched it, and it was alive again. Just like that.”

He scowled. “Children shouldn’t be allowed to play with divine favor.”

“The point is that she was able to save a life. And I thought, if a little girl can save a cat, what could I do with that kind of power? And I thought maybe you were right. It’s not the gods. It’s what we choose to do with their gifts.”

“So now you want to do it? The god thing?”

“Yes,” she said. “Maybe. I don’t know. It’s not something to take lightly, and maybe I’ll change my mind later. But it can’t hurt to look, I suppose.”

Phil hesitated.

“It was your idea in the first place,” she said.

“True.” He shrugged. “I guess it can’t hurt to look.”

And now, six hours later, here they were back on Pantheon, trying to find the god for them.

They ran through dozens more. Teri found a reason to disqualify most of them, and the few she did approve of didn’t suit Phil. Choosing a god wasn’t as simple as he’d first thought. All the really useful gods were in high demand, and they knew it. And the more powerful a deity, the more demanded of his followers. You had to pass a credit check to merely look at Zeus’s profile, and Tyr demanded you cut off one of your hands as a show of devotion if you wanted full benefits. And that was if you were even accepted in the first place. Some gods wanted blood. Others wanted money. Most wanted blood and money. But there were other costs. Vows of silence, poverty, chastity, ruthlessness, and so on. There was always a price, even for the most minor and inconsequential of divine favors, and Phil and Teri found they weren’t usually willing to pay it.

He sat back and rubbed his eyes. He was about to suggest that they just abandon their quest when Teri chimed in.

“This one looks interesting. Luka, god of prosperity and good fortune.”

“He has a raccoon head,” remarked Phil. “I thought you didn’t want one with an animal head.”

“No, I didn’t want one with a jackal head. I can live with a raccoon head.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Raccoons are cute.”

“Raccoons are vermin,” he countered. “And they can carry disease.”

She glared at him, and he realized he didn’t know why he was arguing. Aside from the odd head, Luka stood tall, lean, and proud. He wore long rainbow-colored robes and had a Chinese-style hat on. Phil didn’t know the name for it, but it was one of those hats that the emperor’s advisers always wore in the kung fu movies. Luka’s hands were tucked into his loose sleeves, and he was smiling. Many of the lesser gods they’d seen today had been smiling, too. But there had been a quiet desperation hidden underneath, a neediness that Phil had found off-putting. Luka’s smile seemed genuine.

She clicked the PLAY button for his video.

“Is it on?” Luka looked over the camera. “It is? It’s on? Cool.” He smoothed his robes and adjusted his hat. “Hi, I’m Luka, god of prosperity and good fortune. I… uh… what am I supposed to say?”

Someone offscreen mumbled a reply.

“I really hate these things.” Luka frowned. “Let’s be honest here. You don’t care about what I like or don’t. You just want to know what I can give you and what I want in return. I’ve seen better days. Kind of ironic, considering I’m a god of luck.” He chuckled. “All I really need is a fresh start, and maybe that’s all you need, too. I don’t need your blood. None of that animal sacrifice nonsense. You won’t have to mutilate yourself or promise to wear your shoes backward or leave the lid off your trash can. And I’ll admit that I won’t change your life in any big way. Not my thing. I’m more of a serendipity specialist, but the world can turn on a moment, and that’s where I come in. You won’t become king of the universe or be loved by everyone or a super sex god. But if you allow me into your heart and hearth, all I ask for in return is a percentage of the good I help you attain. Say… ten percent? I could maybe go as low as eight. But that’s my bottom line.”

He bowed and stared at the camera for a few seconds.

“Is it still on? Should I say some—”

The video ended.

“I like him,” said Teri.

So did Phil. Most gods were too… godly. So full of themselves. Even the lesser ones had an aura of entitlement, as if you were lucky to have them. But this one seemed different. Luka was regal but relaxed. He seemed refreshingly down-to-earth.

They read the whole profile just to be sure what they were getting into. No blood offerings, weird rituals, or big demands. Just a standard “welcoming into the home” arrangement. They’d expected that. They’d already picked out the corner where they would stick their new idol.

“I think he’s perfect,” said Teri.

Phil was happy to discover a choice he and his wife agreed on. He was also overjoyed that it was finally done. He didn’t feel like scrolling through any more profiles. The site said that Luka was ready, and they met his minimum qualifications. Approval was just a click away.

They pricked their fingers with a needle and prepared to click on the ACCEPT button together.

She studied the blood on her fingertip. “This better not screw up my mouse.”

They clicked the button together. Teri retrieved some paper towels to wipe off the red stain. They spent a few more minutes filling out consent forms and double- and triple-clicking confirmation buttons. With the establishment of the Court of Divine Affairs, worship had become much more paperwork-intensive.

“Do we have to go pick up the idol ourselves?” she asked. “Or do they drop it off as part of the service?”

The doorbell rang.

They answered it together.

A small mound of rainbow-colored luggage occupied their porch. On top of it sat a raccoon in an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt and denim shorts. He wore sunglasses, even though it was night.

“You must be Phil and Teri, right?”

They nodded.

The raccoon hopped up, put his hands on his hips, and struck a dramatic pose. “Behold your new god. Luka, lord of prosperity and good fortune.”

He lowered his sunglasses to the end of his nose and smiled.

“Where should I put my stuff?”


Excerpted from Divine Misfortune by Martinez, A. Lee Copyright © 2010 by Martinez, A. Lee. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Divine Misfortune 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 96 reviews.
ubtaught More than 1 year ago
I expected a great deal less than I found. Great discovery of an author I hadn't read a great deal of (how's that for a dangling preposition?). Try it, you'll like it. Now, I am off to find more books by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book by A. Lee Martinez. A quirky and fun read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read that keeps you entertained. Vivid imagery of characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt like I was watching a cartoon for adults. Love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a great, quick read. I liked the way it was written, and it was very imaginative.
Sethbob More than 1 year ago
Not as good as his other work, but worth a read. Decent enough.
discourseincsharpminor More than 1 year ago
I've always enjoyed mythology but when you read it, you think, 'if this stuff actaully happened - randon gods using humans as pawns in their problems with others, it would be complete insanity.' This book takes that thought and expands upon it in a hilarious fashion.
dkwdba More than 1 year ago
Funny, silly and highly entertaining. A good read in the alternate fantasy humour categorry.
The_J_Man More than 1 year ago
I honestly didn't like Divine Misfortune. It is well written, the characters have promise, but the book is short and yet plodding. If this had been my first exposure to Martinez, I probably would have never read anything else of his, and that would have been tragic. This book is ok. It's something to take on a trip to kill time. If you want something that you'll really enjoy though, I'd read one of Martinez's other books. I think the rest of his work is exceptional.
Ashleylilliemaria on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Phil and Teri decide that it is time to choose a god. I love this concept. The decision they make bites them in the ass, but I most likely would have chose the same! I kind of wish that choosing a god really was like this. This book was a lot of fun, and I feel that it's hard to read this book without questioning yourself, and your religion.
TheDivineOomba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is odd, I had reviewed this book once, and for some reason, the whole listing is not in my LibraryThing Account. Oh well, here I go again, but with a shorter review.Its a great book. With great characters. Gods are real, and wants You! to worship them. Of course, this comes with its own perils - if you don't do what the God wants, than life can be quite hard for.When Phil and Teri decide that they need a God, they settle on Luka, a god of Good Luck. Unfortunately for them, Luka decides to move in, bringing with him all his dead beat God friends and his enemies, causing all sorts of problem for Phil and Teri.
Orangez on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I just kept turning pages. Was finished in no time, and wished for more.A. Lee Martinez just has this kind of humor that reminds one of Seinfeld (making small things big). His characters are very lifelike and you wish there was a sequel just to see how they are doing.Two thumbs up. Already ordered some more books from this author!
Kellswitch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Martinez's books work it's like riding an amusement park ride, you just get on and enjoy the ride and wish it would be a longer one.This is one of those books.It's almost impossible to really describe this book without giving away major plot points so all I'll say on that it's an interesting and hilarious look at religion, being human, love and redemption. And most importantly it's hilarious!
Shrike58 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When you play in A. Lee Martinez's universe you know what you're going to get; work-a-day people who are trying to do better than just get by who get thrown into absurd circumstances and which rapidly escalate to "comic inferno" proportions. Such is the case here, as a young couple decide that it's time to become adherents to a deity and they wind up with Luka; a quasi-Chinese god of good fortune, and all-around mooch.Luka isn't actually a bad sort, but, as we all know, friends come and go but enemies accumulate, and when the beings that Luka has crossed in the past decide to make life miserable for his new adherents, that is when matters escalate.While I enjoyed this book, I had a few problems that I didn't have with the previous stories that I read by Martinez. The main one is that so many plot points are in play that by the time it all comes together there doesn't seem to be enough space to really develop the relationships. It's as though Martinez had a set page count he was writing to and he just cut things off when he needed to escalate to the climax; I really think that this is one of those times when more would have been more.
timothyl33 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another funny and enjoyable book by A. Lee Martinez. This man has a talent for writing about quirky things in ordinary settings.
craso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Phil notices that people get promoted at work when they have a deity to worship. He convinces his wife Teri to look for one on the Internet. They decide on Luka, a raccoon in a Hawaiian shirt who is a prosperity god. What they didn't realize was that Luca, his friends call him Lucky, is going to be living with them along with his buddy Quetzacpatl. Throw in Syph, a former love deity turned goddess of misery, and Gorgoz, a savage primordial god. All Phil and Teri wanted was for things to start going their way, instead they find themselves in the middle of feuding gods.Martinez has created a world full of every god and goddess from every culture. Mortals enter into agreements where they make offerings and the deity provides a service. There is a regulatory agency called Divine Affairs that a mortal can go to when they want to renounce their god without the deity smiting them.This story is funny and very imaginative. The thought of Quetzacpatl, a giant winged serpent, sleeping on someone's couch and make eggs for breakfast is hilarious. I also liked Bonnie a poor mortal who sits on a bus stop bench next to a bag lady who turns out to be Syph the goddess of misery. Bonnie goes to work at a book store with Syph in tow and she changes the bridal magazines so they have articles like "Top 10 Reasons You'll End Up Dying Alone."
MIWilke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
By the author of Monster, this book is sure to appeal to those of you who enjoy the screwball comedy one finds in such works as Good Omens or Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe along with those that love to read mythology. The world in the book is one where mortals may chose to worship at the alter of the god of their choice. After missing a promotion again, Phil and his wife Teri use Pantheon.com, a diety matching service to view the profiles and requirements of various gods. After wading through the various profiles they become followers of the god of luck, Luka (aka Lucky). This is madcap story of the consequences of their selection, where the craziness almost ends with the destruction of the entire world. Having loved reading mythology from a variety of cultures it was easy to enjoy this romp across earth, the collective unconscious, Valhalla, to end up on the Beaches of Eternity. I want to know when Kevin Smith will make a movie out of this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this one.
NiceGustov More than 1 year ago
Hilarious, Creative, Good Paced and Brilliant cover art.
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Meli_Green More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books; I knew I was going to love. You know when you read the blurb about a book and you are like, wow that sounds interesting, and you open it to read a few pages? Ok if the dedication gets you to laugh you know the book will not disappoint. For the horde! "Divine Misfortune" takes place in an alternative world where the mythological gods exist and are still worshipped. They even have a match-up service similar to eHarmony where browsers can find a compatible god. This was a great story that was well thought-out with well-developed characters, and gods from everywhere. Don't look for divine insight here. The "gods" in this story are as real, flawed, and petty as humans, really just people with all their problems but the added problem of living forever and having a few supernatural powers. The language he uses is wonderful, easy to read. Quite simply, a breeze. His books would be the definition of summer reading, a book to take to the beach or to pull out on a rainy day. This book offers his take on the various gods and goddesses that inhabit our world. How he handles the ins and outs of living with these supreme beings is very well done and often hilarious. Do yourself a favor and read this book.