Book review: Megabelt

by Nick May

★★★★

Is this humor? I stopped laughing twenty pages into this short little story. It hit too close to home.

Megabelt, the book’s title, forms a fusion between the words “mega church” and “Bible belt,” but by the time you reach the end of the book, the title grows pregnant with meaning, like an antichristic leviathan rising out of the sea in the Midwest. I didn’t grow up in the Bible belt, but I may as well have. I attended annual church conventions instead of summer church camps. I attended nondenominational home churches instead of Methodist buildings. But I relate.

The book traces the growing years of its main character, Gil, from a young teen through his early twenties, in an atmosphere where church trumps all and pervades every part of life. As Gil matures, he struggles to make sense of his Christian environment, simultaneously seeking escape while holding on for dear life. The autobiographical intent is rather transparent, rendering its third-person portrayal rather artificial, but by the end of the book, I got the point. Gil (or Nick, if you prefer) is Everyboy growing up in the Bible belt, just as one of the book’s characters is named Everyman.

Troubling as the book becomes, it’s almost impossible to avoid reminiscing as you read. The humor grows from funny to forced to sour until, finally, a bomb shell is dropped at the book’s climax. Is there no escape from the Megabelt?

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