Americas

Dostoyevsky, American Evangelical-Style

Rob Stennett's The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher doesn't need to ask, 'Could this happen?'

Rob Stennett's first novel, The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher, is equal part dramatic fiction and biting satire. It is the engrossing story of a young real-estate agent's audacious plan to start a church and become its pastor, even though he doesn't believe in God or subscribe to any Christian faith. It is written in a meandering sort of way, akin to the storytelling of National Public Radio's This American Life. Indeed, more than once I found myself reading it with the voice of Ira Glass, the show's host, in my head.

For me, reading Fisher was like literary déjà-vu — the distinct impression that I was reading a story from great literature. That's because in some twisted way, I was. There's an uncanny resemblance, whether intentional or not, between Fisher's plot and characters and those of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. Both main characters, Ryan Fisher and Rodion Raskolnikov, concoct a plan to commit a "crime" based on an irrational, unhealthy view of ...

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