Back to Nature
Review by Thomas Gilchrist
Mission to America
The Aboriginal Fulfilled Apostles, masters of Edenic Nutritional Science, have a problem. Desperate for smarter children from the wombs of new women outside their gene pool, the quasi-pagan religious sect from Bluff, Mont., elect to send Mason Plato LaVerle, whose penis is the largest known to exist in town, and his partner Elder Elias Stark on the mission of their lives. They are to go to America and convert new women into Apostles, insuring the future of the ailing colony of natural nutritionists.
When an unexpected turn leads the two missionaries to the self-indulgence of Aspen, Colo., Mason’s devotion to his faith quickly dissolves. As Bluff suddenly begins to hasten in its decline with the death of its leader, the Seeress, Mason begins to find the hypocrisy in his own faith, and when love crosses his path, his morals and convictions are put to the test.
In his third book, Mission to America, Walter Kirn offers a humorous and penetrating commentary on what our crazed society of less-than-enlightened non-members of AFA has become. As Mason becomes completely engulfed with all the frivolities of triple Americanos and fast women, Kirn focuses his satire on dismantling mainstream religion with a subtle poignancy that demonstrates his undeniable awareness of the hypocrisy in born-again Christianity.
While it is not a difficult read, the first part of Mission is somewhat tedious, as you are hit with a barrage of new terms from the Doctrine of Preexistence—AFA’s version of fate—and Luminaria, their version of the Bible, to Geofibrilation, when “slight hiccups in the earth’s rotations lead to various civil wars.”
But the pace hits its stride as soon as the Apostles arrive in Aspen, and while comic narrative fuels the story, Kirn’s intelligent insights into modern Christianity never fail to impressively catch you by surprise, such as there’s no reason why the Bible would be the only divinely-inspired book, and that “The All-in-One seeks neither flattery nor increase but only the satisfaction of our companionship.”
The tension builds throughout, as morals conflict with the intuition of the charmingly naïve characters, leading to a dramatic conclusion that feels a little rushed, but nonetheless is a fittingly frantic finish to an absurd tale. It is impossible not to relate in some way to the satire of Walter Kirn. He picks his critical fights so well that Mission to America is a triumph against consumerism and much of our modern ways, a slicing commentary about where we went wrong, and an offering of hope for a future sans hypocrisy, and full of healthier eating.
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