by Dan Spencer
Publication date: August 17, 2011
In this hilariously clever satire written by Dan Spencer, Buddy What crashes into the lives of America. Literally. When a naked man falls from the sky in the exact middle of the United States, not remembering a thing about who he is, many are quick to find out the meaning of it all. After a misunderstood conversation leads to the moniker ‘Buddy What’, it soon becomes part of his new identity, as his search for self begins.
Buddy What has no memory of who he is, from where he came, or where he was going. He does not even remember how or why he fell to the earth, let alone why he did so naked. In comes the unnamed narrator, local small-town news reporter, to cover the story and get his big break. As the search for who Buddy What is progresses, his every action and comment is over-sensationalized, and leads to a cult following of Buddy. His cross-country tour leads to more followers of the mysterious man with no past. They soon dub themselves “The Forgetters,” in ode to Buddy’s amnesia, and his philosophy that in order to discover who we are we may have to first forget who we were.
By the end, the responsibility of being a sort of (reluctant) messiah pushes Buddy to seek solace from it all. With no leads or signs of who he once was, he is left with the realization that he may become whoever he wishes. However, the pressure of being in the public eye, as well as one who people look to for answers, all becomes too much for Buddy to bear. After all, he never asked to be worshiped- he is only a man who fell from the sky and survived.
Spencer gives us a satirical look at organized religion and the quest for self in Be Now, Buddy What. With a humorous observation of the willingness of people to place meaning upon the unexplained in order to feel more comfortable, Buddy What is a character with which we all can relate on some level. It is a story of who we trust and why, as well as that of realizing how little we really know of those we let into our homes- and sometimes that is alright. It is about giving someone a chance and helping them when they are completely lost in life and need it most, and about accepting a change within ourselves which those around us are bound to bring about.
The dialog in Be Now, Buddy What is perhaps the most entertaining part of the entire story. It often leads the reader to feel as though they are stuck inside a riddle, wrapped in a conundrum. The circular nature of nearly every conversation only adds to the feeling that the more we search for meaning, the more it is lost. It seems as though Buddy does not realize how profound most of his statements are. He merely says what he sees as purely logical, such as “I believe belief is nothing compared to what truly is. And we’ll all learn what truly is in due time,” when one reporter tries to sort out Buddy’s personal religious beliefs. At other times, Buddy leaves us with tidbits reminiscent of Yogi Bera, such as “Even moderation should be taken in moderation,” and “You don’t know what you’re missing till you’re missing what you know.”
Spencer delivers a story about religion, celebrity, life, and what we make of it all with a humor and succinct poignancy that is hard to find. With dialog and circular logic that gives a nod to Kurt Vonegut and Carl Hiassen, this book is sure to entertain the reader to the last page- and have them laughing the entire time, as Buddy and his narrating friend fumble through their new-found celebrity and quest for self-awareness. It is a relatable tale that will make one think long after having finished the last page, and perhaps not to take everything for granted- because everyone has the chance of falling.
This book can be purchased at Amazon.com, or your local independent bookseller.
For more about Dan Spencer, visit his website.
[This review is also published at LL Book Review]