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Book Review: Lord Vishnu’s Love Handles

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What can one say about a book that features “that blue mutherfucker”, a pair of conjoined consciousness Goth vampires, and a Dallas dotcom dude whose wife’s “slutty DNA” talks to him, and who owes the IRS $5 million?

Quite a bit really – imaginative characterization is only a start in a tale of CIA mind control, karmic retribution and betrayal. It is hard to classify Will Clarke’s Lord Vishnu’s Love Handles as a fantasy, an urban comedy or a post-millenarian lament on the death of the American Dream.

Life in Dallas can be more than about keeping up with the Joneses, although you’d never figure this from the lives of the nouveaux riche featured herein, for whom ‘Supper Club’ is “this decade’s answer to swinging. Except instead of swapping spouses, you swap recipes for Curried Coconut Lamb and shit like that.”

Travis Anderson, who made his money with a successful dotcom would probably be satisfied with a life that ordinary, were it not for his twofold problems of alcoholism and psychic abilities. He’s also suffering from a severe case of mid-life crisis, leading him to question his life, his wife, and his partner, in pretty much the same order, and all at once. His internal dialogue is one of the most compelling parts of the book, giving us more insight than the magic realism which pervades the plot.

I look around this living room with its big red walls and golden pillows. And all I see is death. Zombies with trendy haircuts. A bunch of Banana Republicans on Prozac and cocaine. We’re all hiding in this alphabet soup of status. Our IPOs. Our BMWs. Our Starbucks CDs. Our kids’ high IQs/ But it’s not working/ Because we’re all going to die. Because we’re all the sons and daughters of Eve. And she ate that fucking apple. She swallowed the seeds whole and from them grew the toil of men and the pain women.

Jesus, I sound crazy.Sons and daughters of Eve?


Where do I get this shit? No wonder I drink so much. I can’t stand to hear myself think sometimes.

This disaffected life is thrown into a weird parallel universe when the IRS agent in charge of his case offers him a deal. They will waive the $5 million in back taxes if he will go to work for the government as a psychic. They know of his abilities because of his addiction to a mental guessing game at a site called PsychicCow.com, which is a front to draw in people with psychic abilities run by the government. (Incidentally, that’s a real site: wonder who runs it?) [ADBLOCKHERE]

The psychic group is derived from the real Operation Stargate run by the CIA via the Stanford Research Institute in the 1970s – in the book, it is now a private corporation working on mind-games for the government, and presumably, other parties. He finds lost people, extracts the heart’s darkest fears and experiences some weird shit, influenced by a Holy Vishnu Roller from the Dallas Vishnu Temple, called Ikshu, who believes himself to be Kalki, the tenth incarnation of Vishnu, and has a phobia of rats. He also maintains a shrine to Charles Manson and Rasputin, but that passes for normal among psychics, apparently.

The shit hits the fan, figuratively, when Travis quits the group, and his wife & kid are kidnapped by them, framing him in the process. The blue guy appears occasionally, with a knowing smirk, as if this were all part of his game. At one point, Travis has a happy dream of a picnic where all is well with the world, wherein he reads a note designed like a wedding invitation,

Dear Travis,
Heartfelt laughter is a sign that I am with you.

And remember: Thou shalt not kill.

Your Pal,
The Blue Mutherfucker

(P.S. Sometimes I feel like a comedian playing to a crowd who’s too afraid to laugh.)

The climax, Magic Kingdom Come, reminds one of Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, with Ikshu going after the ‘biggest rat in the Universe’, Mickey Mouse. Travis must save the world, and do it through love, like a Hallmark card-salesman.

In all, an entertaining, imaginative book, and who can resist an adventure, really?

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  • Catherine

    Who owns the psychiccow.com site? Who else would it be: Will Clarke, the author of Lord Vishnu’s Love Handles.