"Minds are like parachutes, Travis. They don't work if they're not open," says Agent Debra McFadden in Will Clarke's debut novel, Lord Vishnu's Love Handles. One should certainly bring an open mind to this wild and layered book filled with pop culture and philosophy, written by the Shreveport native who now resides in Dallas, where the satirical novel is set. Clarke makes a protagonist out of former frat boy and current millionaire Travis Anderson, who also happens to be somewhat psychic. Travis envisioned a burgeoning Internet before it was so and made a pretty penny from his foresight, but now all he sees is his wife, Shelby, cheating on him with his coke-addicted business partner. The only comfort he finds is in tipping the bottle at work while playing the Psychic Cow online (www.psychiccow.com). Without warning, an unsuspecting Travis is forced to leave behind the doldrums of his life for one that much more resembles an espionage novel, filled with characters that could've been culled from comic books and sculpted by the Bhagavad-Gita. He morphs into a man on a journey. Interestingly, Will Clarke loosely based his novel around Krishna's treatise; only one part of the book's complex thematic and symbolic architecture. This strange book, it seems, could only come from the mind of Will Clarke. Visit his online blog, which chronicles his book tour so far as well as his everyday insights, at www.willclarke.com and you will see what kind of mind would produce such a book: one vulnerably endearing, curious and childlike, bent on whimsy and also the grotesque. Clarke is a sociological seeker, a true believer, a young sage. He has reason to believe in serendipity and patience: Vishnu was originally rejected by every publisher in New York City. After the book's failure as a Publish-On-Demand commodity, Clarke started his own publishing company to distribute his book (www.middlefingerpress.com -- an assertion of his right to take his fate into his own hands). Clarke's diligence finally paid off when screenwriter Grant Morris optioned the book and got Michael London (Sideways) to sign on as producer and David Gordon Green (Undertow) as director. Simon & Schuster reevaluated its decision and bought both Vishnu and his other novel (to be released next year). Will Clarke will be in New Orleans this week to discuss and sign the newly released hardcover edition of Lord Vishnu's Love Handles. Let's hope he hasn't run out of finger puppets. Free admission.
5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 19
Garden District Book Shop, The Rink, 2727 Prytania St., 895-2266