Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Off Duty VI

The perils of my professional career keep me from authoring a substantive post today, but I expect to return to regularly scheduled programming in time for tomorrow's installment of Chronological Snobbery. However, if it is snobbery you crave today, you might investigate the very, very new and entirely unrelated blog, Adventures in Literary Snobbery, authored by one Calliope of New York City. That blog has but two posts, but its most recent entry concerns Kevin Brockmeier's haunting novel, A Brief History of the Dead (about which I myself previously blogged here). In the novel, the afterlife is a city filled with everyone who is specifically remembered by someone - anyone - who still lives. But Calliope writes that this city of the dead may actually be preferable to those in which we dwell while alive:
You die and wake up in a giant city. The city is very much like the ones found on the Earth you knew in life: apartment buildings, divey diners, giant corporations, mom ‘n pop stores, bums on the sidewalks, overflowing trash cans. But somehow, this city – The City of The Dead – is better than anything you experienced while you were alive.

There’s a “what if” game that’s fun to play: What if you could go back to high school (or “your twenties” or “elementary school”) with everything you knew now? What pitfalls would you avoid? What mistakes would you correct? What encounters would you risk?

In The Brief History of the Dead, this is exactly the sort of scenario Kevin Brockmeier envisions for his version of Heaven; not eternal perfection, but knowledge and second chances.


The trappings of a universal and perfect heaven are disregarded as illogical; because how could “perfection” be universal? These tiny happinesses are only exist for each individual character and are made all the sweeter because they were given the chance to choose their happiness.

Ah, second chances.

Nostalgic popular culture posts will return tomorrow; thanks for your patience.

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