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On Angels

Also available as an ebook on Kindle.

You can read an excerpt (first chapter) here (on Amazon):

This is a critique you can also find there:

Take the title literally–this is about a real angel and a real contract. Hard-driving businessman R. A. Neenan is on a plane flight when he is confronted by the seraph Michael in the form of a huge, athletic black man. Neenan is informed that he does not have much longer to live, and he must try to make up for the wrongs that he has done to others. When the plane goes into a dive and almost crashes, he is convinced and signs the contract.

Neenan has a big job ahead of him. He has alienated a lot of people, including his bitter parents, his frigid and shrewish first wife (just like his mother), his actress daughter (who has been brought up on her mother’s vicious tirades), a homosexual son, and, to a lesser extent, the other son, who is now working as an overshadowed junior executive in Neenan’s company. Then there are a number of women whom he has conquered and discarded.

First, however, is his supersexy but neglected second wife, Anna Maria Allegro. This is the fun part–if you are unfamiliar with Greeley’s novels, you’ll be amazed at how much sex a celibate Catholic priest can inject into his writings. (Even angel Michael has a gorgeous “companion,” Gaby. (Did you know that Gabriel is a female angel? And that angelic sexual encounters last for days?))

To the bewilderment of his associates, Neenan lives up to the terms of his contract. He doesn’t always succeed, but he controls his wayward impulses and tries his best. He discovers that it is much more fun to be a good guy, especially in his relations (both in and out of bed) with his wife. But that fatal deadline is still hanging over him. The ending may be predictable, but who cares? No one would want the story to end differently.

It is difficult to tell just how much of Greeley’s depiction of the divine is to be taken as his honest belief and how much is just pure twinkle-in-the-eye whimsy. Some of it is almost irreverent. (How about the Virgin Mary as a saucy Palestinian teenager who makes the best chocolate chip cookies ever created?) But if I had my druthers, I’d take Greeley’s theology over anyone else’s.

The book is great fun to read. Greeley is certainly an entertaining story teller, with the best kind of Irish-Catholic wit. Ah, I love this genial priest who packs so much love of life into his novels!

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