Ryan Fisher wants to expand his business. Ryan Fisher understands American folk-Christian culture, or at least has a decent vantage point of it from the outside. It is this drive for success and misplaced marketing that leads Ryan through a journey into religiosity, on a road paved with satire that lacks a charismatic style.
The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher is a great concept. To some degree, it is a great read. The cynical parts of me (the "Russia" part of my brain that keeps trying to annex all of the "Georgias" that were unfortunate enough to be parked next to it, like optimism and the impulse to lower the toilet bowl) responded almost instantly to the strong thread of satire running through the events of the novel, as Fisher's lack of faith gives him the power to move a mountain...of money.
It's entertaining and engaging as a concept, but the execution nearly fumbles the novel completely. I found Stennet's style to be bland, unemotional, and at times, boring. There were many places where, rather than feeling what I presume the desired effect was supposed to be, my only feeling was regret that the section wasn't written to draw out the story's humor and humanity.
The problem is that the style is so impersonal that you can't really care about Ryan and the small cast of characters that surround him, which is pretty important when the novel is about him ascending to stardom on the backs of a mass of wealthy, overly trusting christians. I want to sympathize with him, I want to see myself in him because, let's face it, we all have a little bit of that hypocrite that Fisher portrays like an archetype. But I can't. I can't stop thinking about better ways to word the sentence I just read.
This may be a highly subjective matter, and it may not dissuade you from enjoying this book. By all means, give it a try - the subject matter is great and, like I said, the concept is funny and timely. Just be aware that you may yawn in places and cringe in others along the way.
What did you think of this review?