Ricky Rudolph experiences a revelation that causes him to believe that he has been called by God to imitate Jesus, literally. He embarks on a personal journey of religious study and learns a few magic tricks that lead to his self-employment performing wedding ceremonies while portraying Jesus. At one such wedding he is approached by a young man named France who requests that Ricky officiate at his mother’s funeral. However, haunted by the deaths of his father and his mentally ill sister, Ricky declines. He’d rather focus on happy occasions and trying to get the beautiful but reserved Beatta, who owns the liquor store he frequents, to give him the time of day. Ricky’s youngest daughter Linda shows up pregnant and in need of his help. France won’t go away either and now almost homeless, leans on Ricky for support and a place to stay. Ricky’s once quiet life suddenly includes two young people in need of care he’s not sure he can give and all of this challenges his efforts to keep up the façade of righteous hipness he’s so carefully cultivated.
About the Author
CECILIA PINTO is a writer whose fiction, nonfiction and poetry have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. A graduate of Knox College, she received her MFA in writing from the School of the Art Institute. She makes her home in Chicago with her husband and sons where she teaches creative writing at The Chicago High School for the Arts.
“Cecilia Pinto’s terrific novella—like Goldilocks’s choice, just the right length—draws us into the life of an appealingly feckless non-hero who makes his living impersonating Jesus—a profession without much competition—and muddles his love life, his fatherhood, his friendships with an oddly appealing guilelessness. He may be a second cousin to a Flannery O’Connor character, but he’s not vicious, only well-intentioned, adrift and searching for the meaning of it all, for some grace. Imagine the Dog is rewarding for its combination of sharp observation and forgiving wit. It’s a very inviting debut.”
—Rosellen Brown, author of The Lake on Fire
“Imagine the Dog by Cecilia Pinto follows Ricky, a middle-aged Jesus impersonator who's trying to spread joy even though life keeps pitching him curveballs. Whether he's helping his pregnant teenage daughter, housing an orphaned teen, or dodging suspicious cops, Ricky approaches life's challenges with an unorthodox set of principles, roughly inspired by Jesus himself. Pinto shines a light on human foibles with tender comedy and a keen sensibility. A story you won't want to miss!”
—Eileen Favorite, author of The Heroines
“I'm not spoiling anything by telling you that Ricky Rudolph, the protagonist of Cecilia Pinto's novella, Imagine the Dog, is a Jesus Impersonator. He's a bit of a mess, but he's a principled mess. Like Jesus, he surrounds himself with sinners and outcasts, and you'll find yourself rooting for them all. It's only fitting that I use Ricky's own advice to himself as you live with Pinto's very real characters: ‘Be awake for this.’”