Sex addict and medical school dropout Victor Mancini cons a series of Good Samaritans to help pay for his mother's hospital bills, only to have everything come crashing down around him as he learns the truth about his past and tries to cope with his uncertain future. When we first meet Victor, he has some serious problems and few legitimate solutions. He is a sex addict who indulges his "addiction" by hooking up with girls he meets at his sex addicts' support group. Unable to afford med school, he drops out to help care for his mother, who has early-onset Alzheimer's and requires around-the-clock hospital care. But this is even more expensive than his tuition.
To help offset his bills, he works at a Medieval theme park/living museum with Denny, his best friend and fellow sex addict (Denny is a compulsive masturbator). But the pay is low, the job terrible, and he spends most of his time either sleeping with his fellow peasants or keeping Denny (who is constantly getting caught with anachronistic contraband) company in the "village" stocks.
Victor has no choice but to resort to extreme measures. He comes up with the scheme of going to fancy restaurants and then "choking" on his meal, counting on someone in the restaurant coming to his aid and saving him. Of course, this scheme plays out exactly as he intends, and the Good Samaritans, who enjoy feeling heroic, regularly send him birthday cards and letters filled with cash to remind Victor, and themselves, of how they saved his life. Victor uses this cash to pay for his mother's medical care.
He visits his mother frequently but she rarely recognizes him and constantly confuses him with her old lawyer, Fred. Over time, Victor becomes close to Dr. Marshall, a pretty young doctor who seems to have primary care of his mother. During one of his visits, his mother hints that she has something important to reveal to Victor, but since she thinks Victor is Fred, he can't get her to tell him directly. Victor asks Denny to go visit her and pretend to be him. Denny agrees, and when he comes out he gives Victor his mother's diary, which Denny says contains all of the answers he seeks. Unfortunately, the diary is written in Italian. Dr. Marshall claims to be fluent in Italian and offers to translate it for him. What she finds is nothing that Victor expected.
Dr. Marshall tells him that, according to the diary, Victor is the reincarnation of Jesus. Apparently, his mother stole a piece of desiccated foreskin from a Catholic priest and impregnated herself with it. Victor is skeptical, but stunned.
Meanwhile, Denny has been fired from the theme park. Due to the influence of his new girlfriend, a stripper named Beth, Denny decides to redirect his masturbatory drive into something constructive: namely, collecting rocks from around town and building a house, one rock at a time. Beth films Denny and Victor working on the house and sends it into a local news station, who, unbeknownst to Victor, show the video that night.
Victor at last comes to terms with his identity. He accepts that he might just be Jesus. His childhood was a mess of foster homes and escapes with his mother, who alternated between giving him up and then kidnapping him away again. In his mind, being Jesus, which necessitated running from those who might seek to stop him from coming into his destiny, seems to fit. That night, he visits his mother for the last time and tells her that he read her diary and forgives her for not telling him the truth before. His mother tells him that that wasn't the truth in the diary. The truth is that, when he was a baby, his "mother" stole him from another woman and pretended he was hers so she, an Italian, could stay in America. Before she can say anymore, she chokes on her dinner and dies. Dr. Marshall comes running in to attempt to save her and Victor notices for the first time that "Dr" Marshall has the same bracelet as the patients from the hospital's mental ward.
The next day, Victor returns to Denny's partially built house. He finds a crowd gathered. They are all people who saw the newscast, and quite a few are Victor's Good Samaritans who recognized him and, in showing up and meeting each other, are furious when they realize his deception. In a frenzy, the mob tears down Denny's house.
When they clear out, their destruction done, Beth and Denny get back to work. One rock at a time. Victor feels strangely relieved. His mother is dead. There are no more lies to hide behind. Marshall shows up, having escaped the hospital. With a renewed sense of purpose, they all, together, begin building again.
Best part of story, including ending:
It's dark, twisted, and funny. I didn't like it as much as when I first read it, back in high school/college (did I grow up too much?), but it was still entertaining.
Best scene in story:
The most startling scene has to be when Victor realizes that the "doctor", on whom he has placed so much of his faith, is in fact just another mentally ill patient.
Opinion about the main character:
Victor is not a character any normal person "likes". But he's definitely entertaining enough to sustain your interest, if not your sympathy.
This book is about a man who chokes hinmself in public places to get attention from strangers. These strangers help save his life and continue, out of love and a feeling of responsibility for him, to give him money and support later on in the future. He finds himself struggling with his ill mother and trying to cope with the choices that he makes in his life.
The review of this Book prepared by Joshua