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In this comic novel, a jaded adman gets a chance for redemption when God taps him for his marketing campaign.
Dinsmore “Dinny” Rein is 55, divorced and demoted, since he’s been freezing up in meetings at his Chicago ad agency. At the company, run by the loathsome Steve Sinkle and sexy creative director Ester, Dinny is derisively referred to as “Noodles” because one of his two remaining clients is a pasta company. Exhausted and irritated, Dinny agrees to meet the baritone who keeps calling him on his cellphone. The old man says he’s God; to get people back to church, he wants Dinny to do an ad campaign. Dinny is skeptical at first, but he then learns that $10 million has shown up in the agency’s bank account. The next morning, Dinny wakes up to find he looks 35 again, “jelly-donut belly” and wrinkles gone. Emboldened, he strides into the office and gets Sinkle to give him the resources he needs. He produces an evocative, successful image campaign; meanwhile, girlfriend Patti gets a similarly miraculous youthful makeover, too. Yet Dinny is dogged by problems, as Sinkle and Ester work behind his back to do an alternate campaign. Worse still, God proves to be less than all-powerful, with a slippery hold on the human forms he inhabits, and his campaign monies are provided through questionable means. By novel’s end, Dinny emerges more successful, yet a bit bemused, especially because he receives a call for help from another religious figure. Former adman Vanderwarker—perhaps best known for Writing with the Master (2014), about John Grisham helping him with one of his other novels—brings plenty of insider perspective to this snarky, rollicking tale. Just when the deus ex machina seems shaky, that becomes precisely the point, and the novel turns into a rather biting social commentary. The character study of Dinny disappears somewhat in that transition, although perhaps that’s also intentional given he’s merely a Job stuck doing a job for God.
An amusing satire about the ad business, with clever twists on its gimmick and dead-on barbs about our brand-obsessed culture.