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The Second Greatest Story Ever Told

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In The Second Greatest Story Ever Told there’s not a much more audacious literary premise than the return of God to earth; but this first novel is too giggly, and ultimately too tame, to exploit its own possibilities. Ilona Ann Coggswater, born in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1970, turns out to be the Daughter of God, and Bechard works the premise for all the satire it’s worth. Virtually everyone who meets this funky deity writes a best-seller about the encounter. Unfortunately, Bechard isn’t quite as sure of his mission as Ilona is: He wants to play the story of a superhero among mortals for laughs and for solemn morality. The author and his proxy are serious about kindness, and he gives God all the high cards in its contest with Evil. Even George Bush is converted. The president of the National Rifle Association is not, and is sent off the edge of a cliff like a cartoon villain. God applauds; the reader does not. C