by Bo Fowler
Cape pounds 10
Bo Fowler's acclaimed first novel, Scepticism Inc, explored the existence of God. It was written from the viewpoint of a devout supermarket trolley that rolled off the production line in 2022. His second also goes all over the shop, but this time it is narrated by God. That's God as in Zizo Yasuzawa, an 88-year-old butterball who has been charged with killing Time.
Mentally, Yasuzawa, the world's most famous astrologer, has long since left the planet. The failed kamikaze pilot, known as Japs Eye Fontanelle to his friends - on account of the hole in the top of his head - goes under the official title of He-Whose-Figure-Of-Beauty-Is-Tinged-With-The- Hue-Of-Cerulean-Blue-Clouds-And- Whose-Unique-Loveliness-Charms-Millions-Of-Little-Cupids plus other names too numerous, and tiresome, to mention. He is being held under armed guard in a mobile home in a freezing Fort Knox. He spends his days writing star guides on topics such as chiropody and hairdressing, reliving the Second World War Pacific campaign, and watching Star Trek with his nurse.
The moral of Scepticism Inc was "people matter more than The Truth". The moral of the Diary is that astrology - "a confused mess of half-baked anachronistic ideas and childish nonsense, mumbo-jumbo of the highest order" - has nothing to do with the truth. Now here's something you didn't know: "Leo women like having their breasts caressed, going on picnics, and watching movies in the daytime. Leo women have sex on trains and eat quite a lot of pizza."
The horoscope has always been good for a laugh, and Fowler's zodiacal pronouncements are the funniest things in the book. His humour is based on bathos and incongruity. Each day's entry is prefaced by equally inaccurate anniversaries: "Birthday of Charlie Chaplin, poisonous fog kills thousands in London, hairdryer invented." The prevalence of natural disasters in these goes some way towards explaining the mania of United Nations Commissioner Pizarro who formally indicts Nature for crimes against humanity and, deeply shaken by earthquakes, deems it safer to travel by pogoing.
The outcome of Yasuzawa's trial hinges on the sticky question of the creation of matter. If, by changing its mass, he has altered the density of the universe and caused it to start contracting instead of continuing to expand, Yasuzawa will have turned the Big Bang into the Big Crunch. And how has he created these new galaxies? "My spunk is full of stars!" That's quite an ejaculation.
Public demonstrations, in which he appears stark naked except for a lighted sparkler in his urethra, attract millions of followers. He becomes King of Jersey and, assisted by a Lord-Lieutenant in drag, institutes a regime ruled on zodiacal lines: the police force, for example, is entirely made up of Scorpios. His starry reign is ended by a UN invasion that deploys the nuclear-powered aircraft-carrier USS O J Simpson.
Fowler's second novel is not an advance on his first. He seems to have got lost in the Vale of Vonnegut, - the reiterated "whaddyaknow?" echoes "so it goes" -but God is no Billy Pilgrim and he outstays his welcome. In small doses though, the Diary, like any horoscope, is ideal bathroom reading.