People like balance. Throughout the ages the concept of balance has been presented in a variety of philosophies: good and evil; yin and yang; id and ego; us and them. In his self-published book Attic Access, burgeoning author Robert Battaglia examines the idea of balance in a whole new way.
It all starts with a closet. The narrator (who is never actually named) adds some shelving to a closet and, in doing so, drills into some wiring. Realizing that repairing the wiring won't be as simple as destroying it was, he decides to call in a professional electrician to fix his mistake. Because of the quirks of the way his house is laid out, he then discovers that before the electrical work can be properly completed, he has to create an access hole to the attic crawlspace above his bedroom.
That's when the trouble really starts.
Hearing some thunking noises coming from his newly accessible attic in the middle of the night, he investigates only to find that a small, yellow blob is there waiting to talk to him. He referrs to it as Thunk, as this blob declines to provide him with a name. Apparently, Thunk has been residing in his attic for some time and will move on now that his lair had been discovered. But before going, it decides to impart some wisdom to the man who, up until he added shelves to his closet, has been his unwitting host.
The main bit of knowledge that Thunk wants to pass on is this: Humans have it all wrong - there is no God. Thunk knows this because he is "The Balancer of the Universe." He then proceeds to tear apart the concepts of religion as practiced by people of various faiths, causing his audience (the narrator) to examine his own beliefs about the nature of God and religion.
Interspersed with this conversation are chapters examining the narrator's family life, work life, and personal history. We learn that he is a collections agent who isn't entirely satisfied with his job, his boss, his co-workers... He's also not satisfied with his personal life. The reasons that he is drawn to Thunk's nihilistic opinion of the universe are clear; but still it comes as a shock to see what he decides to do with his newfound information.
This is an interesting read. At only eighty pages, this "vanity press" novel actually barely qualifies as a novella; yet I found that what I thought would be a quick afternoon read actually took me the better part of a week to get through. I couldn't just mindlessly turn the pages; I had to take time to allow the concepts that were being presented sink-in.
The ideas themselves are not new. This book postulates that there is no God, that all religions are the same and simply constructs of the human mind that allow some people to exert power over other people. But while this book is not necessarily unique in its philosophy, it is occasionally quite entertaining in its presentation. Robert Battaglia has several turns of phrase that made me laugh out loud. For instance, when Thunk is explaining that religion is merely a collection of artificial doctrines developed by men, he says, "Your kind scrutinizes the minutiae of this nonsense written back when a Tickle Me Elmo would have been considered the work of Satan, then you keep what you want, ignore what you don't, change what you need to, and go out and destroy each other."
Many people are likely to be offended by the content of the arguments. Many will also be offended at the language of the arguments. Throughout the book, Thunk presents his explanation of what the Universe is really like using the full gamut of swear words. Likewise, the narrator (being both a collections agent and generally unhappy) uses coarse language in his dealings with Thunk as well as with other people.
One of the most disturbing aspects of this little book is the direction that the narrator's life takes once he fully believes that he is free of eternal consequences. It is important to note, however, that though he finds himself more free to act as he wishes, he is not necessarily depicted as being more content or happy with his life. Perhaps it is this outcome and not the godlessness of the philosophy that is most important to consider in an examination of this book.
Overall, this book is interesting and relatively entertaining. The arguments about religion, God and the Universe are not entirely thought through and are presented with some logical fallacies. The author argues against God by arguing against religion but fails to explain how it is that God is a figment of men's imaginations - and yet this blob of yellow goo exists to bring balance to all things. He also fails to even discuss how Thunk achieves that balance, or even what balance means. But as a starting point for considering, challenging and clarifying your own beliefs, this book certainly provides some food for thought. Perhaps Attic Access and clearing out the cobwebs of the mind is exactly what the author intended all along.