I really like Marcus Brigstocke. So many times, listening to The Now Show has been made bearable by Brigstocke's five minutes of comedic rantings.
However, this book was a chore to get through. It's unclear what Brigstocke was really aiming for with this meandering set of thoughts. There's no clearly discernible theme to each chapter, and the tone lurches from light whimsy to dry thoughts.
For example, one chapter, titled "Where to look for God...", discusses Brigstocke's efforts to hunt for God. No, not in any metaphorical sense, he's actually physically looking for God. On eBay, amongst other places. This allows him to shoehorn a clumsy couple of pages about the operation of the Royal Mail - amusing material, but otherwise irrelevant to a book ostensibly about religion and faith. There's another couple of pages about how Brigstocke likes to imagine iPhone users are "pleasuring gerbils" - a surreal image that pleases him sufficiently that we are presented with it on several occasions through the rest of the book.
By contrast, another chapter, "God Delusion - the modern atheist" is almost devoid of humour altogether. This section deals with Brigstocke's disappointment with the atheist movement - a group that he is often lumped in with, seemingly much to his frustration. All of which seems odd, given how many of his own observations about the unjustness and seeming irrationality of the Abrahamic God in the Koran, Torah and Bible, are remarkably familiar from other works by contemporary atheists. In an almost astonishing piece of irony, Brigstocke states that he finds Dawkins's 'The God Delusion' to be incredibly smug, an effect "enhanced by the fact that... I had heard Professor Dawkins speak" and that "Once you have that clipped, humourless and unrelentingly posh tone in your head, it's very hard not to read the book in the same voice." He does have the good grace to concede that some of his readers may struggle with the same problem - but I was disappointed by the lack of any critique beyond perceived "smugness".
The same chapter goes on to comment on 'The Four Horsemen', a filmed conversation between Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, and comments that several of the participants were drinking alcohol, before launching into a frankly puzzling passage about the similarities between drinking alcohol and participating in religion. It's a lighthearted observation, but one which completely overlooks the somewhat glaring point that there is no debate about whether or not alcohol exists.
In any case, lurches in tone and style aside, the fundamental problem that I had with the book was that it reads like a long, transcribed comedy routine. Given its roots in Brigstocke's Edinburgh show, this is unsurprising. However, there are points where Brigstocke's delivery style does not lend itself well to written prose. At times, he is wont to provide examples that prove a point. In his stand-up delivery, it undoubtedly works well to go off on flights of fancy providing four or five examples - in his prose, it serves to bring a developing argument to a shuddering halt.
There are moments of genuine entertainment in the book - particularly toward the end where Brigstocke introduces some personal anecdotes about his family, and his friend James to whom the book is dedicated. I got the impression that the book would have been much more entertaining if Brigstocke had told more such stories, which explain his interest in, and fascination with, the world of religion and faith... rather than trying quite so hard to be both funny and profound.