Plain Heathen Mischief: A Novel

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Alfred A. Knopf, 2004 - Fiction - 397 pages
48 Reviews
Of "The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living," Martin Clark's first novel, the "New York Times Book Review" wrote, "Like Nick Hornby in "High Fidelity" and Thomas McGuane in "Nothing But Blue Skies," Clark has produced an oddly stirring portrait of a man in existential disarray." Which-noted Malcolm Jones in "Newsweek-""made me laugh so hard I fell off the sofa."
"Plain Heathen Mischief" ups the existential ante, as Joel King, a defrocked Baptist minister, finds life even more bedeviling once he's served six months for a career-ending crime he might not even have committed. Now his incommunicado wife wants a divorce, the teenage vixen of his disgrace is suing him for a cool $5 million, a fresh start in Montana offers no hope for ex-cons of any religious persuasion, and the refuge provided by his sister turns as nasty as his parole officer.
Talk about a crisis of faith. On the upside, a solicitous member of Joel's former congregation invites him into a scam that could yield some desperately needed cash, and soon the down-on-his-luck preacher is involved with a flock of charming con men, crooked lawyers, and conniving youth.
In a feat of bravura storytelling, Martin Clark ranges from the cross to the double cross, from Virginia to Las Vegas, from jail cells to trout streams, as he follows his Job-like hero through dubious choices and high-dollar insurance hustles to a redemption that no reader could possibly predict. Wildly imaginative, at times comic, at times profoundly sobering, and even more audacious than his wonderfully idiosyncratic debut, "Plain Heathen Mischief" is a spiritual revelation of the first order.

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Review: Plain Heathen Mischief

User Review  - Eric - Goodreads

Good writing, interesting characters and story arc, and the exploration of issues of faith and morality held my attention. Yet at the end of the novel all I can say is...meh. Read full review

Review: Plain Heathen Mischief

User Review  - Joe - Goodreads

Joel is a preacher who steps down due to a sex scandal that he may or may not be guilty of committing. After spending six months in jail he finds himself divorced, working two odd jobs, living in his ... Read full review


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About the author (2004)

Martin Clark, a circuit court judge, lives in Stuart, Virginia. His first novel, The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living, was a New York Times Notable Book, a selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, a finalist for the Stephen Crane First Fiction Award, and appeared on several best-seller lists.

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