The Bible Salesman
Little, Brown & Co., 2008 (2008)
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Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch
he Bible Salesman
is a quirky, pleasant novel about a na´ve bible salesman who unknowingly gets caught up in a dangerous scam that produces unimaginable consequences.
he story, straight out of the Deep South, weaves back and forth in time. When the book opens, Henry Dampier is about to embark on a career as a Bible salesman in the heart of the Bible belt. After taking a course in Bible-selling, Henry is determined to become a stellar salesman, despite the fact that he is peddling Bibles that he received for free. In a comical scene near the beginning of the book, his first sale results in his having to bury a potential buyer's cat.
he reader learns that Henry was born in the 1930's, having been raised by his aunt and uncle after his father died and his mother abandoned the family. Despite Henry's beginnings in life, he is optimistic and innocent. He is innocent, in fact, to the point of gullibility: when he meets scam artist Preston Clearwater, Henry fully believes that Clearwater does indeed work for the FBI and that he needs Henry to help him steal cars to break up a car theft ring. The reader, of course, knows the truth.
enry's misadventures with the charismatic Preston Clearwater take him all over the South. Along the way, girl-obsessed Henry experiences first love with a girl he meets at a roadside fruit stand. The southern landscape is vividly and lovingly depicted, complete with southern dialect and charm.
ffbeat characters round out this breezy novel, including the neighbor who acts as a ventriloquist for her numerous cats and the elderly sisters who drive Henry to see his girlfriend (despite the fact that the ninety-year old driver has barely recovered from a stroke). Henry is as charming and likeable a character as the book itself.
The Bible Salesman
makes a quick read for anyone who is a fan of Southern fiction.
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