New Yorker humorist Rich sets up his second novel (after Elliot Allagash) like one of his “Shouts & Murmurs” pieces. The conceit this time: God truly created man in his own feckless image: “With that whole mankind thing?” the CEO of Heaven Inc. admits, “I bit off way more than I could chew,” and decides to destroy the Earth and finally realize his lifelong dream of opening an Asian-American restaurant. Only Craig and Eliza, two angels working in the Department of Miracles, seem to care, so God tells them if they can answer just one prayer in a month, he’ll keep the Earth open for business. Unfortunately, the challenge is to unite Sam Katz and Laura Potts, two pining, painfully shy 23-year-olds living blocks apart in Manhattan, acquaintances whose chance encounters, so far, have been “worse than when Lincoln gets shot.” Prohibited from doing anything the humans could perceive as supernatural, the angels’ meddling is restricted to dream-work, iPhone hacking, traffic signal tampering, weather manipulation and, in overweight Sam’s case, a botulism attack. But at month’s end, the two—like Craig and Eliza in their own budding romance—must make their own moves. Humanity depends upon it. Agent: Daniel Greenberg, the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (Aug.)
Founder and CEO of Heaven, Inc., a bored God is about to ditch Earth when two starry-eyed angels from the Department of Miracles intervene. If they can convince Earth's two most socially maladjusted souls to fall in love, then the planet will be saved. Former president of the Harvard Lampoon, a four-time Emmy nominee for his writing on Saturday Night Live, Rich has credentials in the Department of Laughs.
The angels of Heaven, Inc. must save Earth. God's had enough. He thinks Earth is "just as frustrating as a Rubik's cube," and so he's decided to destroy humankind and open an Asian fusion restaurant. God even sent out a staff memo, and he's personally told Raoul, a homeless guy in Detroit, his current prophet. God needs Earth only as a source of Xenon gas, and things like a book by "some fancy pants Oxford professor trying to get attention" represent the sort of ingratitude that have God ready to pull the plug. But two angels in the Miracles Department, Craig and Eliza, are upset, especially since a random existentialist comment from Eliza spurred God's apocalyptic decision. But deals can be made at Heaven, Inc. Craig agrees to invest in God's restaurant and then, on his good side, persuades God to make a bet. Mankind will be preserved if Craig and Eliza can perform one impossible miracle: make two socially challenged people fall in love. The author has the difficult task of sustaining the superb comic premise throughout a book-length work, which he accomplishes by having his outlandishly capricious God appear at regular intervals. Deliciously funny.