E.E. King

It’s well-established that the devil has the best music, roller derby teams, and cocktail mixers, so we can assume his nine circles of eternal pain and suffering are overflowing with eager participants. The premise of author E.E. King’s first novel, Dirk Quigby’s Guide to the Afterlife, is that the devil, frustrated by hell's overpopulation problem, hires an ad man to make plain-vanilla heaven appear more inviting. A mock ZAGAT Guide to the Lord's domain, Dirk Quigby’s Guide to the Afterlife is a sly and satirical glimpse into what would happen if a Madison Avenue mad man gave heaven a PR makeover. King clearly relishes her many opportunities to skewer the advertising industry and the pious, indulging in jokes at the expense of religions both venerable (Catholicism) and questionable (Scientology). As the book's framing narrative develops, the titular ad man finds that his succinct reviews of the world's religions (using a convenient ZAGAT-style rating scale) inflame believers of all faiths. It's a risk the real-life author is also taking. Considering her vocal support for scientific research and rational thought, and her role as an adviser for a number of science advocacy organizations, she probably doesn't mind a bit of religious controversy. All the better for us nonbelieving heathens: As King demonstrates, the devil also has the best jokes. PAUL M. DAVIS

Fri., Oct. 8, 7 p.m., 2010

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