Somebody has to say it: With a name like “Malarkey,” it has to be good. Of course, in hindsight, we say the same thing about Bernie Madoff — but what’s in a name does seem to slide second to what’s in a scam. But even so, when it comes to a book on “Heavenly tourism,” dictated by a brain-damaged six-year-old, profiting his no-good father, which literally has the word “malarkey” on the cover…well, caveat emptor seems to fall a bit short.
Let the buyer beware indeed — of this, (inexplicably) New York Times Bestseller “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven,” a true story by Kevin and Alex Bullsh*t. Err, sorry. “Malarkey.”
“The boy” in question is Alex, who as you might have guessed from the cover graphic is now wheelchair-bound. In 2004, when Alex was six years old, he was riding with his father (Kevin) when they got into an automobile accident. The crash pitched Kevin through one of the car’s windows, and put six-year-old Alex in the hospital with severe spinal injury, neck injuries and brain damage. Almost 18 now, Alex is a quadripilegic and functionally bound to a wheelchair.
But the tragedy was not without triumph, for in the midst of it all Alex had some amazing visions of the hereafter. The first was seeing an angel carry his saintly father away to safety, catching him as he flew through the window of the car. Later on in the book, he says he went up through “a hole in Heaven” and met not only Jesus at the Pearly Gates, but Satan as well. Whereupon, the Lord of Darkness (presumably in the form of Liz Hurley) began whispering evil nothings into his ear; one of which being that he was the one who caused the car crash.
You had me at “I want your soul.”
All of this Alex related to his father, who did in fact cause the car crash. And who later caused a train wreck when, in 2010, he published a “memoir” of his son’s trip to Heaven. With the subtlety of Pat Robertson and all the prosiac beautiy of Atlas Shrugged, “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven” shot to a prime spot on the NYT Bestseller list, moving 112,386 copies in its first year. In 2013, after hitting one million copies, it won a platinum award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. It was even made into a TV movie. Reviewers said “descriptions of this journey seem very real and believable.”
Believe-able. As in “capable of being believed by those who want to believe.”
And, believe it or not, as it turns out “Heavenly Tourism” has become quite the literary genre these days. You can barely turn over a Buick these days without finding titles like “90 Minutes in Heaven” (six million copies, five years on the NYT bestsellers), or the very similar “Heaven is for Real” (10 million copies, and a movie adaptation that made $101 million). Neurosurgeons have written books on chilling with Jesus, and a gentleman named Gary Kurtz has written no less than three animal-themed books like “Furry Friends Forevermore: A Heavenly Reunion with Your Pet.” Seems a good blow to the head is all it really takes to get on the NYT list these days.
Which makes writers wonder why the Hell we’re still writing here. Especially since journeys to Hell sell even better than those to Heaven; a nice silver lining, considering the odds for some of us.
Regardless, make no mistake — there’s an Ark-load of cash to be had in telling stories of the afterlife, confirming bias in the faithful while harvesting thier Social Security checks. And both Tyndale Publishing and Kevin Malarkey (above) seem to have cashed in pretty well. Not so much, though, the boy who came back from Heaven. Despite having his name on the cover, underage quadripilegic Alex has never seen a dime of the book money, and Daddy Kevin took off with his share right after the book was published.
Yes, but not as much as what Alex revealed the other day. In no uncertain terms, the entire story was ma — a fabrication.
To be fair, neither Alex nor his mother Beth have ever supported the book. Back in 2012, Alex himself posted on his own book’s Facebook Like page that it was “the most deceitful book ever written.” The comment was quickly erased by the page admin, who totally wasn’t his father. Beth posted on her blog back in May of last year that “”the truth is getting twisted, distorted, and packaged to be sold to the highest bidder,” that Alex ” is just a boy not a statue to be worshipped or person with some supernatural gifts.” She goes on to say: “He does not go to heaven, have conversations with supernatural beings, and whatever visions/experiences he has had or had not had, is up to him as to what he will do with those.”
But, all that was just hearsay, until we heard from Alex himself; which we did on January 13th, when he released an open letter to Christian publishers and bookstores selling copies:
“Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short. I did not die. I did not go to Heaven.
I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth.
Anything written by man cannot be infallible. It is only through repentance of your sins and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for your sins (even though he committed none of his own) so that you can be forgiven may you learn of Heaven outside of what is written in the Bible…not by reading a work of man. I want the whole world to know that the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough.
In Christ, Alex Malarkey”
Well. Okay then.
Now, on the basis that Alex is a teenager, quadripilegic, and very likely brain damaged, we’re not going to point out the obvious flaw in this particular statement. We’ll only laud him for its honesty. BUT…for anyone else who might make a similar statement, we will point out that the Bible didn’t write itself. It was actually written by man. But nobody tell Alex…he’s probably having a bad enough day as it is.
It’s been a worse one for Tyndale, though, which quickly yanked every copy of the bestselling book off the shelves, and shut down every internet thing with the words “Boy,” “Came,” “Back” and “Heaven.” Okay, maybe not all of them. Just the ones they owned. But the book is gone.
And I smell a market niche opening up.
So, excuse me. I’m going to duck out for a bit, and repeatedly run head first into a palm tree until someone calls the paramedics. When I wake up in the hospital, I’m going to (hopefully under the influence of some most excellent painkillers) dictate my experience in the wrld beyond. So, this June, please make sure to check the New York Times Bestseller list for
The Boy Who Came Back from Hell:
That time I got totally wasted with Einstein and played naked twister with Liz Hurley while listening to Pantera on top of a pile of Lamborghinis made out of cocaine and money inside of a giant flaming skull full of bat-winged French-Canadian pornstars.
A True Story.