by Yeva Wiest, fantasy (2009)
Lyrical Press, $3.50, ISBN 1-60504-203-X
Oh boy, I have to warn people of this or else some people may get a heart attack while reading Yeva Wiest's Dangling: this one has enough elements to get some people riled up in a way never seen before ever since a certain Kevin Smith came out with a movie called Dogma back in 1999. Hmm, is it a coincidence that this story is released just ten years after that movie? Only the author will know, I guess.
For example, we have the angel Gabriel as a creature of ambiguous gender since he can transform into both male and female, referred to here as a s-he. He clearly prefers guys though. If that is not enough, this story is pretty much a re-telling of a Biblical event - Lot was a wimp who offered drunken and rowdy men his daughters to save his own skin. So what happened to his wife and daughters when the angel Gabriel called down the wrath of God on these despicable degenerates of Sodom, you ask? Well, that's for readers of this story to find out.
Let's just say that the ancient past and the present collide when the Archangel Michael and his sidekick Gabriel once again show up in the company of degenerates, this time those degenerates being an intolerant power-hungry leader of a right-wing sociopolitical movement who wants to get rid of all Muslims and homosexuals in the world. If he has to slander, libel, and worse to get what he wants, so be it. Oh, and don't forget to buy the merchandise, folks! Getting rid of evil is an expensive gig, you know.
Among the many pieces of the jigsaw puzzle here, we have Gabi infiltrating a homosexual-reformation camp with hilarious results, Michael watching over a Muslim lawyer as she does her thing without being aware that she's being set up to stir public sentiments against Muslims in the country, and the First Lady trying to deal with the fact that her husband, a bigoted moron, happens to be ruling the whole country.
There is an important distinction that should be made here, I feel: this story isn't mocking Christianity as much as it is mocking the way people use religion to perpetuate intolerance and violence while enriching themselves in the process.
With that out of the way, let's talk about the story. While I usually prefer my satires to be a little less blatant and predictable than this, Dangling is still an amusing read because Ms West manages to put everything together very well. This is a fast-paced read with plenty of amusing one-liners and a good build-up toward a dramatic climax as all the players in this farce pretty much hurtle forward for the inevitable collision. I'm quite disappointed by how so many of the characters here are clichés, but I suppose it is more effective to use familiar yet exaggerated stereotypes to drive home one's point in a satire.
Dogma is one of my favorite movies so it's pretty much to be expected that I'm all over this story as well. Dangling lacks the freshness of Practical Purposes, but it still works very well as a quick, funny, and biting work of dark humor. Okay, count me in as a fan. Yeva Wiest rocks. Where can I get the T-shirt?
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