Right Here, Right Now
By the acclaimed author of Platitudes and Home Repairs, Right Here, Right Now is a devilish and voluptuous satire that delves with uproarious incisiveness into the seemingly unquenchable American zeal for "self-improvement." With the same inventiveness and mordant humor that Ellis's readers have come to expect from his work, he aims his sights on the billion-dollar self-help industry and the New Age movement, and their logical extremes.
Meet Ashton Robinson, a dashing playboy whose suave charm, worldly pretensions, and ecstatic seminars have made him one of the most successful motivational speakers in the country. Though he was raised in a black working-class neighborhood in Flint, Michigan, Robinson has reinvented himself as a larger-than-life Renaissance man: a Yale-educated, millionaire surfer who speaks several languages and has explored nearly every corner of the globe. Now, when he's not in his sprawling mansion overlooking the Pacific, he spends his life crisscrossing the country with his devoted -- if cynical -- staff, delivering exclusively priced charge-'em-up speeches everywhere from airport hotel conference rooms to jet-set Caribbean resorts. His clients, chiefly midlevel executives desperate to better themselves and oust their oppressive bosses, worship the ground he walks on.
Yet, after an encounter with the synergistic effects of marijuana and expired cough syrup, Robinson renounces his life as a self-help icon and pronounces himself a spiritually enlightened master. Overnight he invents the world's newest religion, based on meditation, bungee-cord jumping, tantric sex, and The Gap. Meanwhile, the FBI has gotten wind of Robinson's sequestered, libertine community andmoves to action.
Right Here, Right Now never ceases to catch the reader off guard. In the story, which is told from Robinson's point of view, one cannot be sure what is real and what is mere perception. His activities are at once innocuously prurient and alarming. Has the same outsized ego that fueled his success as a motivational speaker driven him over the edge? Has he stumbled upon one of the great truths of the universe?
Trey Ellis has written a titillating and trenchant tale about the revivalist fervor of the American self-help industry. Right Here, Right Now is a corrosively funny and provocative exploration of the impulse to self-improvement -- one of the most salient features of American popular culture at the close of the twentieth century.