Verdict: A haywire comedy with mass appeal, HOW MY DOG BECAME THE NEW MESSIAH is the perfect pick-me-up.
The way in which a simple action spins out of control is handled with a light humor, plenty of absurdism, and a helping of heart.
The messianic dog in question is one Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a loving Saint Bernard. He’s become Ned Belton’s most trusted companion since Ned’s wife passed from cancer. One night Ned catches Clem reading the Wall Street Journal on his computer—even tapping on the keyboard. Ned takes a video and shows it to his three best friends at breakfast the next morning, and one of them uploads it onto YouTube.
To say that all hell breaks loose would be an understatement. The snowball that builds from this silly video post builds to catastrophic proportions. Soon reporters, a deranged SEC agent, and a prophetic cult leader descend upon Peculiar, Missouri en masse, all with their own expectations for the amazing computer-using, stock-picking dog. How Ned and his friends—all wisecracking older men with conniving minds and schemes in spades—deal with this absurd situation makes up the bulk of this very funny book.
The writing is simple but effective, the characters fully realized. The writer’s metaphors are worth engraving on mugs: Father Jones, the obese cult leader, has “the face of a California condor.” Not purely a humor book, Wallace includes important scenes around the friendship of these four men and Ned’s relationship with his sons that add richness to the comedy. The absurdism can get out of hand, however: during a live TV broadcast of a developing car chase, before the police are involved, Wolf Blitzer interviews a woman taken hostage who has fallen in love at first sight with her captor. But aside from a few plot snags and typos the book shines with a high gloss.
A haywire comedy with mass appeal, HOW MY DOG BECAME THE NEW MESSIAH is the perfect pick-me-up.