The New Messiah is a novel of personal discovery set in the 1970's. Neal Shelley is an idealistic poet who falls in love with a woman he meets while hitchhiking across America during the Bicentennial summer of 1976. But despite the storybook beginning, the love affair soon fades and Neal is left disillusioned and searching for answers in his life.
In his disheartened state, he conceives a utopian plan to launch a new messiah movement which he hopes will end his and everyone else's unhappiness. He enlists his charismatic friend, Andrew Moore, to pose as a modern-day savior. They begin their mission with a sermon on the Venice Boardwalk.
The initial sermon succeeds brilliantly but then Neal's plan takes an unexpected turn as Andrew starts to truly believe he is the Chosen One.
Inspired by actual events, The New Messiah shows how American youth culture in the mid-1970's-characterized by a quest for higher consciousness; pre-AIDS sexual promiscuity; recreational drug use; pop mysticism; irreverent humor; and cynicism and alienation in the post-Watergate "malaise" era-was the soil out of which a messiah movement could grow.
One of the most striking features of The New Messiah is its play-like format. The story is told through the conversations of the characters. The authenticity of the dialogue in the party scenes, street scenes, and intimate one-on-one scenes will no doubt be appreciated by readers who lived through that time period. College-age readers today may also find much to identify with in the novel's depiction of 70's youth culture.