Summary and book reviews of Miracles, Inc. by T. J. Forrester

Miracles, Inc.

A Novel

by T. J. Forrester

Miracles, Inc. by T. J. Forrester X
Miracles, Inc. by T. J. Forrester
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  • Paperback:
    Feb 2011, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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Book Summary

Vernon L. Oliver, still a young man, is waiting for the death penalty. When his attorney suggests he write an autobiography to generate funds to cover legal fees incurred during the appeals process, Vernon sits down to pencil and paper and begins his narrative.

Vernon L. Oliver, still a young man, lives in a six-by-ten cell in a Florida prison. He has chosen the needle over the chair, has no desire to smell burned flesh on the day the state snuffs out his life. When his attorney suggests he write an autobiography to generate funds to cover legal fees incurred during the appeals process, Vernon sits down to pencil and paper and begins his narrative.

Miracles, Inc., Forrester's debut novel, tells the story of a charismatic slacker in love with Harley Davidson motorcycles and Rickie Terrell, a beautiful woman who quotes poetry and will not discuss her past. They live in an RV, smoke weed and drink beer, play Scrabble late into the night. His boss, a brilliant businesswoman with a far-reaching vision, offers him the chance to make more money than he ever thought was possible. He buys into the faith-healing scheme without reservation, and so begins the journey that leads to the stunning event that changes his life forever.

Chapter 1

Contrary to news reports, I, Vernon L. Oliver—brother of Lucy K. Oliver and son of parents who raised their children on corn and Christianity—am not insane. Admittedly, my attorney claimed otherwise in my trial against the great State of Florida. I played along, spewed nonsense to the psychiatrist’s questions, rolled my eyes and lolled my head in front of judge and jury, but in the end, I bear no ill will against the justice system. I made a series of choices that led to nowhere good and those choices landed me in a six-by-ten cell with concrete walls and a steel frame bed.

At one time, not too long ago, I was revered—a man who treated his followers with kindness, with love, a man whose heart was open to all. They still send me letters, pleading in their blindness for my innocence, for they cannot believe I committed so heinous a crime. The letters come in bunches, sometimes a hundred or more a day, and I’ve requested that the guard only bring a ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Forrester's wizardry at creating a truly complex character makes reading this book a thoroughly amusing mental exercise.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review (520 words).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While alternating between Vernon's autobiography leading up to the act that lands him on death row and his life in prison is a structural choice that mostly pays off, the depiction of life in prison suffers compared to the inventiveness of Vernon's life as a sham faith healer.

Booklist
There are terrible deeds throughout the novel, but they are accompanied by comedy and moments of tenderness. Forrest never explicitly makes this declaration, but the story speaks clearly enough: bad things can befall those who exploit the faith and prayers of others.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Showing the push-the-envelope spirit of a Terry Southern, Forrester has the makings of a formidable talent.

Author Blurb Amy Greene, bestselling author of Bloodroot
T.J. Forrester has achieved with his debut novel a rare blend of suspense, satire, and flawed but sympathetic characters. More than just a literary page-turner, Miracles, Inc. asks important questions about religion, belief, and the exploitation of our nation's faithful that I'm sure to be thinking about for a long time to come.

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Beyond the Book

Death Row Syndrome
According to Amnesty International's 2009 report, the USA's 37 legal executions in 2008 placed it fourth in the world after China (1718), Iran (346) and Saudi Arabia (102). However, this ranking needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as it does not adjust for population size; and does not take into account additional executions that may have taken place away from the public eye in many of the countries listed. Having said that, it is nonetheless interesting to note that the USA is one of the few so called developed nations to maintain the death penalty in both law and practice, as can be seen by this map.

The European Court of Human Rights has condemned the death penalty as inhumane, most especially that ...

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