) rips into the dangerous pursuit of body perfection at the expense of the soul in this stinging and mordantly witty satire. In the too-near future (watch out, Dr. Phil!), the Reverend Earl, a godlike "guru of the good life," broadcasts from his Glass Cathedral, promoting the nirvana of the "Afterfat," which can only be achieved by following his bible's formula of relentless exercise, cosmetic interventions and use of his special dietary supplement. A cast of delicious characters, caught like insects in day-glo amber, features bewildered twin teens Betz and Danny Abercrombie. The brothers are searching for their anorexic sister Annie, who's been shipped off to a convent created by Earl for sinners with eating disorders and run by the very scary Dedicated Sisters. Their confused but well-meaning mom turns for help to an eccentric underground railroad of religious clerics of various denominations who would love to see Earl destroyed before he launches his next program, Solutions. In the rousing endgame, aging stockbroker Jeremy Devlin enters Earl's high-ticket desert spa to lose weight and discovers the dark heart at the core of Earl's empire. With this sharp-eyed look at America's obsession with image, Reed provides much food for thought and reaffirms her position as one of our brightest cultural commentators. Agent, Andrew Blauner at Blauner Books. (June 16)
Subtle jacket art of a place setting will help lure non-SF readers, as will a blurb from Ruth Striegel-Moore, co-author of
Eating Disorders: Innovative Directions.