When a reality TV scout “discovers” Walter in a diner near the hospice where his father has been placed, his life has reached a low point. His father is dying, his college teaching career is under threat, and his life is adrift. The scout wants him for a reality show about religion. In a more self-assured period of his life, Walter would have rejected her questionable offer outright, but now he wavers and allows himself to be drawn in. Maybe this is the jolt of energy his life needs. Maybe, if the show succeeds, his university will be so impressed that they’ll finally treat him with respect. Maybe the show will even be what the producers promise it will be, a serious inquiry into faith. Maybe he’ll become famous.
The show brings Walter attention, but for all the wrong reasons. He is misquoted, misinterpreted, misunderstood, and then shot after he has been dragged across the country in an increasingly frustrating and absurd series of challenges. Will his career and reputation survive the public protests? Will his marriage survive the hints of affairs on the road? Will any kind of “reality” emerge to restore his self-respect?
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Thomas Allbaugh is an associate professor of English at Azusa Pacific University. He has been writing since the fourth grade, when his teacher allowed satire in their “What I Want for Christmas” stories. Later, after winning a short story contest in the eighth grade, and being accused of plagiarism in the ninth grade, because, his teacher said, “You can’t write that well,” he began to read seriously every afternoon in the library during study hall and found he enjoyed everything from science fiction to realistic fiction. Convinced now that writing is not just creating products, but more importantly an active way to reflect, discover new ideas, and process the world, he has managed to publish short fiction, essays, and poetry in a number of small journals. APOCALYPSE TV is his first novel, though he has also published a textbook for first-year writing, called PRETEXTS FOR WRITING.