Lord Vishnu's Love Handles is the story of a man who is teetering on the edge of financial ruin and insanity until a couple of secret agents teach him what it really means to lose his mind.
Travis Anderson has a psychic gift. Or so he thinks. So far he's milked his premonitions only to acquire an upper-middle-class lifestyle -- pretty wife, big house, and a shiny Range Rover -- without having to make any real effort. But recent visions threaten his yuppie contentment. Haunted by omens of impending cancers, stillborn babies, and personal train wrecks, he is compelled to make a series of inaccurate and horrifying prophecies that humiliate him in front of his fellow country club members. The IRS gets Travis's number, too, demanding an audit of his sloppy bookkeeping.
Drowning in mounting financial problems and apparent mental illness, Travis tries booze, pills, even golf to stay afloat, but nothing works. His wife and friends are forced to stage an intervention. Travis is in danger of losing his family, his career, and ultimately, his sanity. That is, until he meets a Hindu holy man in rehab who claims to be the final incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Suddenly, the tragically shallow Travis is saddled with the responsibility of bettering mankind and saving the world.
Travis Anderson, the protagonist of Clark's intentionally kitschy debut, knows when someone will call on the telephone and he knows that his wife is cheating on him. A dream told him to get into the Web-site building business, and he's now quite comfortable. Following this early-pages setup (in another of the seemingly endless computer-oriented conceits by young male novelists), a bored Travis stumbles on a government Web site that stealthily head hunts psychics. Soon, he begins to help locate missing persons, but a crazed, power-mad co-worker kidnaps his wife and son, setting things in hectic motion. Travis's first-person narration is vivid and witty, and gives the dopey plot, which involves a man who claims to be an incarnation of the god Vishnu, nice nuance. But a tricked-out denouement, with Disney World wired to blow Atlanta Olympics-style, is overblown and finally pushes the book from campy and fun to silly and showy.