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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Match Made in Heaven’: A stroke of genius

    Match Made in Heaven: A stroke of genius

    Imagine you can play a hole of golf against any famous dead person. Drive them around in a golf cart, make a little small talk and tee up together.

    Who would you pick? Leonardo da Vinci? Abraham Lincoln? Your first celebrity crush?

    In Bob Mitchell’s new novel, “”Match Made in Heaven,”” Elliot Goodman, seconds before undergoing open-heart surgery, hears the voice of God challenging him to a game of golf. Elliot will be pitted against eighteen historical figures, selected by God, in a high-stakes wager.

    To be saved on the operating table, Elliott must win the game. What he finds, though, as he plays each hole against a new opponent, is that his mistakes on the golf course are symbolic of the mistakes he made in his life. The game of golf becomes a metaphor: Instead of obstacles such as raising children, Elliot has to overcome trials like bunkers and divots.

    Though at points a little preachy and overly didactic, the morals Elliott learns are heartfelt and always successfully tied into his life before the heart attack.

    Anyone who plays golf (yes, X-Box counts) will enjoy the suspense of this game. Yet, the book is not strictly for golf enthusiasts, as the wide range of reincarnated celebrities and geniuses caters to every interest group: Abraham Lincoln for history buffs, Babe Ruth for sports fans, John Lennon for music followers and Moses for the faithful.

    Golf takes a central role in moving along the plot, with chapters organized by hole number, but is also mixed in nicely with character development. Mitchell is clever in integrating the personalities of his stars with their golf technique, showing Freud’s swing as a release of sexual tension and Joan of Arc making so perfect a shot that Elliot assumes it must be witchcraft.

    Mitchell also incorporates facets of his characters into the storytelling. When Shakespeare appears at hole14, the prose switches into play format, complete with stage directions. When Beethoven plays the 13th hole, he is only able to speak in musical notes, which are drawn out on the page in case the reader has a piano handy.

    Such examples show the author enjoying the writing process, which injects the novel with a sense of fun.

    “”Match Made in Heaven”” is witty, casual and an easy read with plenty to keep anyone interested. The main character is humble and believable in his interactions with the all-star opposing lineup, often bumbling his words as their fame gets to his head.

    With so many characters, though, it feels as if each gets only a brief introduction before the next is whisked in. Elliott often misses the burning questions that one would want to ask and banal banter is given more page space than it deserves.

    Mitchell’s novel is nevertheless an intriguing concept that makes up for the rather excessive stroke-by-stroke account of golf.

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