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Monday, September 26, 2011

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

Here is an unusual topic for fiction. What do you think the afterlife would be like? Author David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and non-fiction writer, presents us with a collection of short stories offering a variety of alternatives. In one afterlife you might relive all of the experiences in your previous life, only grouped together, so that you would sleep for thirty years, stand on line for eighteen months, shower for two hundred days, and more. In another one, you find that after death your role is to populate the dreams of living people; eventually you will return to life and the actors in your dreams will be the dead. In some versions of the afterlife, God is a giantess, or a married couple not always living happily ever after, or a group of Collectors who run scientific experiments using us as the subjects to answer their questions. Heaven might be a comfortable lounge where you get to watch the details in the lives of your descendants. Or it might be a place where everything is immortal, even the things that we create, such as cell phones, knickknacks, old computers, etc. All of these tales and others allow the author to express his ideas of human philosophies, hopes and emotions in a concise volume.

Friday, September 16, 2011

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir

Written by Elizabeth McCracken, this is an exploration of the author’s feelings during a tumultuous time in her life. Recently married, she and her husband Edward, both writers, temporarily move to France on work assignments. Elizabeth discovers she is pregnant and the couple spends the next several months in a blissful state, enjoying both the pleasurable elements of French culture and the exciting promise of future parenthood. Then the unthinkable happens; in her ninth month of pregnancy Elizabeth senses that something is wrong with the baby. She is rushed first to the clinic and then to the hospital where she delivers a stillborn son. Inconsolable in her grief, even though her husband is very supportive, Elizabeth falls into the depths of depression. We are present in all her thoughts and feelings. Not long after this she becomes pregnant again, hoping against hope that she will deliver a healthy baby. Even when Elizabeth does deliver a healthy second son, Gus, she still has a place in her heart for their first child and asserts that this book is a memorial to him.