Margot Mifflin
May 31, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Probably the best-known unknown artist in America, the Rev. Howard Finster is an eccentric whose evangelical work has appeared on album covers for R.E.M. and Talking Heads, and landed him on The Tonight Show. Finster, who calls himself ”God’s junk man,” brings new meaning to the phrase ”Jesus Saves.” His Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is a scrap collector’s heaven in which broken glass, rusted bicycles, and cement-filled ”tater chip boxes” fuel his artistic and religious whimsy. The book’s cumbersome introductory essay includes no mention of this 80-year-old’s early life, his five children, or his wife of six decades; and Finster’s own charming commentary is inset in photos of pieces that often don’t correspond to the works he describes. Photographically, Paradise Garden: A Trip through Howard Finster’s Visionary World is an earthly delight; textually, Finster deserves better. B

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