Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for Magnificent Vibration includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Imagine finding a toll-free number that would connect you to God. Would you use it? What would you say? Horatio “Bobby” Cotton is at his breaking point when he finds 1-800-Call God scribbled inside the front cover of a self-help book he’s just stolen from a bookstore. At thirty-two, he’s at a dead end: stuck in a miserable job and recently divorced, having lost his wife, his house, and his beloved dog in one fell swoop. He’s considering suicide but figures he’ll screw that up, too. So why not call up the big guy?
But God has attitude—and a wacky sense of humor, and Bobby finds himself on an unexpected journey for answers to questions both big and small. A wholly original story that is at once hilarious, tragic, affecting, irreverent, and deeply thought provoking, Magnificent Vibration is a wild ride you will never forget.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. At the beginning of the book, Bobby thinks, “The scorching intersection of sex and religion will remain a potent one for me—a mash-up that will drive me to my inevitable destiny in the years ahead.” Discuss specific moments where sex and religion intersect in his life and how you think they affect the outcome.
2. How do you think “magnificent vibration” relates to this story and to the mysterious self-help book? Why do you think Springfield used the same title for both?
3. Though mostly told through Bobby’s eyes, the novel shifts point of view and is not broken into chapters. How did this affect your reading experience? Would it have been different if the book told only Bobby’s story, without the perspectives of the OSB or Ronan Young?
4. Bobby, Lexington, and Alice are all led to copies of Magnificent Vibration, but only Bobby and Lexington find God’s phone number in theirs. Why do you think Alice’s book didn’t have the phone number in it?
5. How have the women in Bobby’s life shaped his character? Are there any women who haven’t let him down or betrayed him in some way? How does Alice fit into the picture?
6. Even though God asks to be called “Arthur,” it’s never clear whether God is male or female. Do you think God has gender or is a sexless being?
7. To the OSB, the people of Earth are “destructive, ignorant, negligent masses.” Do you think this is a fair assessment?
8. Why do you think Bobby saw the Loch Ness Monster instead of the Earth spirit? Do you think Bobby was meant to know his destiny?
9. Bobby, Alice, and Lexington are together on this complicated and mysterious journey throughout much of the book, but in the end, the focus is on Bobby and Alice. What do you think Lexington’s role was?
10. Merikh explains that by giving Bobby and Alice the virus, “‘The Earth is trying to save herself. Save life.’” Do you think Alice and Bobby make the right decision? Is the choice easier for one of them?
11. Though the OSB admits, “‘I may move a few chess pieces now and then,’” God still insists that people have free will. How does this fit with your beliefs about God, fate, destiny, or an ultimate purpose?
12. “‘The truest and most profound saying you have is “Shit happens.”’” Agree or disagree?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. If you could communicate directly with God, what would you say? Make a list of a few questions and share them with your discussion group.
2. All his life Bobby has loved monsters, especially the one in Loch Ness. Do you have an interest in something that’s been with you since childhood? If not, were you once fascinated by something that has no appeal to you now?
3. Magnificent Vibration presents the possibility of an ugly future for our lovely planet. Visit the Nature Conservancy at www.nature.org to learn about green living, volunteer opportunities, and small ways you can make a positive impact on the “Beautiful Blue, Green/White Majest . . . ‘Earth.’”
4. Rick Springfield is also the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Late, Late at Night, named one of the twenty-five greatest rock memoirs of all time. Pick up a copy to learn more about his personal journey and the many adventures that have led him to where he is today.