A Fool Such as I

I’d like to promote the novel of friend and fellow author and activist Luke Hauser, A Fool Such As I: A Tarot Mystery. Here’s my Amazon review:

From the blurb, I expected something fun, but a little more dramatic. Instead, I get a relentless stream of one liners, reminiscent of Douglas Adam’s. Also some self-effacing Bukowski: Luke Hauser’s hero is a heroic yet (usually) humble janitor. Yet, blessed be, it totally works. Sometimes a humor style like that gets old by the end of a flash story, but Luke keeps it rockin’: after a whole novel I’m still up for more.

I read a previous novel by Mr. Hauser, Direct Action, which was a Roman à clef about peace activism in the late 1990s, so I was expecting the politics to be more blatant. So I was puzzled by the world Luke created. All the world’s Christians of all denominations suddenly embrace Paganism, but rather than a utopia that transcends Christian moralism to embrace real compassion, not much else changes. (Also unlike The Fifth Sacred Thing, magic rarely literally works.) In fact, New Age crass commercialism may have devolved past Burning Man. The action of the novel takes place on a street dominated by rival magic stores (Tarot decks, crystals, scrolls and candles).

At first I thought this was author’s negligence, but by the middle I guessed that he was going all trickster on us. Warning fellow pagans of the dangers of apolitical spiritualty. Yet his satire is subtle (and silly) enough that it’s never didactic. ‘Twould be a shame to go to all the trouble of publishing a novel and not offend anybody, yet there’s something very open and caring about L. Hauser’s approach, to soothe whomever he’s lampooning.

Luke Hauser loves Tarot, and that shines in his fifty pages of appendices. When I got there, I kinda wished I had checked out the appendices in mid-novel. Especially when heroin/crush-interest Persephone explains to a captive audience: “Tarot cards don’t contain ancient secrets or magical powers. They’re just pictures on little pieces of cardboard. I should know! You have to supply the magic. Divination is about your intuition, your questioning, your personal experience of magic – the most that the cards can do is awaken what’s within you.” At that point I wanted to go all intellectual for a minute, and dabbling in the appendices might of been good for me. (I always liked Tolkien’s appendices, and they just made a TV show about them).

Is the book for everyone? Maybe not. But if you found your way to this review, and after reading it you’re still curious, I dare say it’s for you.

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