A Faithful Proposal is the height of absurdity inspired by the depths to which segments of our society have fallen. It is the story of a group of corporate types (need I say “greedy”?) who propose a somewhat hostile takeover of religion in America. They scheme to hijack all other religions and combine them into one — Faith America. Faith America is not a replacement religion; it combines aspects of every religion. The services not only represent every creed, they also provide delicious meals and lots of entertainment. Held in large, domed stadiums, they utilize food and souvenir concessions and offer half-time diversions.
Author Alan Beck introduces us to a cast of characters so wacky, they could have been siphoned from a cartoonist’s nightmare. The megalomaniacal Brooks McRump hatches the all-purpose religion within the same cavity that produced elements of a surreal health insurance industry. Rod Travers is a cross-dressing pre-paid-plans savant. There are representatives from a variety of religions, including the broadly named Billy Cracker, and enough sleazy guys for two books. While some of the characters names are fanciful, others leave nothing to the imagination, such as Ellen Eyeful and Rifle Rae Virgin. Wandering through this strange mélange are well known celebrities Anderson Cooper, Larry King, and Scarlett Johansson.
Beck makes so many references to — and jabs at — popular culture, the reader may need a quick course in cultural literacy. Since the story moves at an incredibly fast clip, some allusions (like Madoff International Barbers) may escape unnoticed. At first reading, the style of the dialogue seemed too similar to the narrative, therefore unnatural. It is futile to try to apply a word like “natural” to a book like A Faithful Proposal. Publicity compares this book to the works of Carl Hiaasen, but that comparison works only if Hiaasen is using meth and dropping acid. At the same time.