Prescription for a Superior Existence

This funny, prescient, disturbing, exhilarating novel--about the intersections between faith and doubt, the individual and the community, love and God, and sex and death--is now out.                                                                                                      

“In Prescription for a Superior Existence, Josh Emmons successfully avoids the second-novel jinx, following up on his bravura 2005 debut, The Loss of Leon Meed, with a neat little metaphysical thriller that manages to combine satire and seriousness, social commentary and science fiction. It's probably unfair that someone so young should be so talented, but the obvious ambition of Emmons’s efforts and the degree of his success on his own terms belies the constant currently fashionable moaning and groaning about the ‘death of literacy.’ the end of this witty, wise novel, he has demonstrated how character and destiny are inextricably intertwined.”

- San Francisco Chronicle

- “’The imagination is always at an end of an era.’ Frank Kermode quotes this line from Wallace Stevens to highlight the way some of us Western-bred humans tend to impose a structure on time that accords with our own lifetime: here we are, we tell ourselves, at the end of history...Emmons’s clever speculative tale takes that old story and sets it against a backdrop of contemporary environmental and political threats, satirizing American-style credulity about the end of times the book resembles something Philip K. Dick might have written had he lived to experience the climate is entertaining.”

- The New York Times Book Review

- “Josh Emmons’s Prescription for a Superior erudite and engaging; it is poignant and often moving; it is intelligent and lucid. It makes crafty and craftsman-like use of objects. It is even blessed with an empathetic and vulnerable first-person narrator.”

- Harvard Book Review

“It is to the looking-glass borderline of cult and religion that Josh Emmons brings us in his funny, provocative’s overpowering hold on Smith shines through this satire of corporate success, religious cults, self-improvement, rehab and California.”

- Newark Star-Ledger

“Emmons has put his finger on the pulse of a bizarre vein in American religious history that has spawned everything from the Shaker religion to Scientology, from the Branch Davidians to the Yearning for Zion Ranch. He demonstrates an understanding of the process of spiritual seduction...with interesting plot twists and hard-won insights.”

- The Seattle Times

- “PASE is a thought-out, well-orchestrated adventure of seemingly random and out-of-control events that consistently hide the truth, which is part of what seems to make the novel so universally true...Emmons controls pace and rhythm deftly while never letting the story drag and consistently evading predictability. He manages to cherry-pick the kinds of events that lie on the fringe of believability, but never meander outside of realism.”

- Gently Read

- “Readers will be caught up in the narrative,” as well as the “unusual premise and snarky humor of this offbeat novel.”

- Booklist

“If the title of Josh Emmons's sophomore novel, Prescription for a Superior Existence, sounds more like a Dr. Phil-type self-help book than a work of fiction, that's entirely purposeful. Emmons takes on trendy religious sects like Scientology and Kabbalah in the story of a 30-something man disgusted with his life who turns to a group called the Prescription for a Superior Existence to find a more fulfilling life, or at least a more fulfilling lifestyle, and winds up getting forced into the group's training camp against his will.”

- The Boston Globe

“A novel about an ordinary man and religion--the creepy, California kind.”

- People

“Emmons rakes a herd of sacred cows over the coals in this unusual novel...Readers with a penchant for satire and the absurd will relish the novel's outrageous premise and knowing jibes at popular culture's sacred and secular excesses.”

- Library Journal

“The truth awaits in Josh Emmons’s second novel.”

- Daily Candy

“Emmons’s yarn is engaging.”

- Publisher’s Weekly

"With Prescription for a Superior Existence, Josh Emmons has created a wholly original, brave, and disturbingly plausible novel, an existential, theological, fin du monde thriller about star-crossed orphans, twenty-first-century cults, environmental angst, and the extremes and consequences of desire."

- James P. Othmer, author of The Futurist

"In Prescription for a Superior Existence, Josh Emmons’s hero Jack Smith -- a man of questionable appetites, high skepticism, and touching vulnerability -- falls through the rabbit-hole of new-fangled California religion. The result is an acidly hilarious, tightly plotted adventure that folds big themes, romantic moments, and a little thing called the end of the world into its pages. Both a wicked skewering of religious cults and a finely wrought testament to their power, this novel reads like Raymond Chandler rollicking through the house of L. Ron Hubbard. It's as probing and smart as it is moving, hopeful, and sweet."

- Alix Ohlin, author of Babylon and Other Stories

“In this balanced examination of faith's allure,  Emmons manages to blur the line between religion and cult, reality and illusion, fate and coincidences, continually challenging readers to discern the difference...The main characters, especially Jack, are flawed and hopeful, evoking sympathy from the reader as they stumble through reality in search of a truth to make life more bearable. With an undercurrent of present-day religious speculation running though, the story unfolds from itself in exciting, twisting ways. But what Emmons does best is to make the plot seem plausible. Emmons describes the detailed inner workings of a made up faith (PASE) as if it were real, as if he merely had to crack open a few research books and scribble down facts. The result is a charismatic and engrossing book that is as important for the skeptics as it is for the believers.”


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