The Moffat family is beyond dysfunctional. Adopted daughter Chrysalis literally crawls out from under the bed to learn that her absentee dad, once a CIA bio-weapons specialist, rescued her from Central America as a child. When mom dies, the family's California mansion is left to Chrysalis' belligerent brother, Eddie, who turns it into a Buddhist institute led by a sham shaman named Ralph. Their postmodern lives are so twisted -- Ralph's step-sister has been entangled with both Eddie and his father -- that you get cramps. And there's no relief in the long passages formatted in a word processor's outline function: ''2.1 Friends could sit with Ralph for hours. 2.2 Friends passed the time as if it was cheap fuel.'' It's a needless crutch for Newman, who has a penetrating voice that could one day garner a devout following.