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The Hereafter Gang [Kindle Edition]

Neal Barrett Jr.
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99

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Book Description

On a hot summer Texas afternoon, Cindy Nance introduces young Doug Hoover to the two great secrets of life. Doug likes the first secret a lot. The second, that guys grow up and go to work, doesn't appeal to him at all. A series of meaningless marriages and do-nothing jobs prove Cindy was right. Turned off by the present, Doug tries to recapture the joys of his past Captain Marvel and cinnamon squares, Dr. Pepper and window-peeking fun.

Nothing goes right until Doug meets Sue Jean, the culmination of a lifetime enchantment with mean-eyed Southern girls, his all-time carhop queen. Reality takes a hard right and never slows down. Doug, Sue Jean, and readers who can hang on tight are swept through an indescribable romp that gives new meaning to life, death, and roadside romance.

"There are enough bizarre characters here to fill several institutions: Crime czars,proctologists, Western outlaws, dog-fighting aviators and trout-fishing Huns. The Hereafter Gang is a literary accomplishment of rare insight and pure pleasure. Barrett's sense of humor is unexcelled. His ability to stir fantasy and reality into a delightful souffle redefines the term "magic realism."

PRAISE FOR THE HEREAFTER GANG

"… The Hereafter Gang is almost as hilarious as Larry McMurtry's Texasville, and less earthbound; nearly as haunted as Thomas Pynchon's Vineland, and less suffocating. Like both those books, it attempts to hold on to America as the century blows us away; like neither of them, it bites the bullet, in language of tensile brilliance…
.... The Hereafter Gang is a posthumous fantasy. Like similar work by a wide variety of writers, from Vladimir Nabokov to Flann O'Brien, from John Crowley to Gene Wolfe, it tells of a hero who, after the death of the body, must sift through the materials of the life he has left in order to make sense of his naked soul ... It is one of the great American novels." -THE WASHINGTON POST

"...A remarkable piece of work ... that keeps the glamour of the novel screaming ahead at a high quantum level all the way through. The Hereafter Gang is the charm of the author's voice. Barrett knows how to write economically and evocatively. ..His characters are earthy, bawdy, sensual and dimensional. In other words, they live..." -LOCUS

"...Barrett has an ear for the bedlam din of urban Texas, and a story-telling voice which deposes matters of great subtlety with great shouts, and an exuberance which glows in the dark, and he's hilarious." -John Clute. LOOKAT THE EVIDENCE


Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Doug Hoover never liked work and changed jobs frequently. He did the same with women, whom he loved more than that only Texas can supply. When he comes to the end of his journey, a wonderful town where everything costs a nickel, he realizes he has died and must decide whether or not to go back in another form. Some of the people he discusses this with are Billy the Kid, the Red Baron, and assorted Wild West and World War I aces. The heaven they are in has cars, dogs, cats, ribs, saloons, and sex. Veteran author Barrett has produced a most inventive novel, with flashes of brilliance and impudence. The Texas dialog rings true, and the style is appropriately sassy. A bit long (with some repetitions and wandering), but entertaining, rich in humor and nostalgia.
- Robert H. Dona hugh, formerly with Youngstown & Mahoning Cty. P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Here is The Neal Barrett Jr. Story. At first sight it looks very much like The Elmore Leonard Story: The Sequel. After 30 years of hardworking obscurity, a period during which he has published only paperback originals, Neal Barrett finally gets a hardback house to take him seriously. In 1987, when he s almost 60, Through Darkest America is released to a chorus of surprised reviews, and all seems set for the bandwagon. But something happens. The hardback house turns sour on sf, and Barrett s next novel, a sequel to the breakthrough book, comes out as a paperback, and sinks out of sight. This is not a great career move, this is not The Elmore Leonard Story. This is not how to enjoy a prosperous old age.

We come to 1991, and to The Hereafter Gang (Mark V. Ziesing, 1991), and we simply do not know what to think. The book itself is attractively produced, and distributed widely within the sf world; but there seems no way, all the same, that a small press like Ziesing can hope to muscle into the chains. It seems unlikely, therefore, that this second potential breakthrough novel will reach the very wide readership it deserves. The Hereafter Gang is almost as hilarious as Larry McMurtry s Texasville, and less earthbound; nearly as haunted as Thomas Pynchon's Vineland, and less suffocating. Like both those books, it attempts to hold on to America as the century blows us away; like neither of them, it bites the bullet, in language of tensile brilliance. In The Hereafter Gang, the only way to recapture the past or to hold on to the present is to die.

Doug Hoover is 58 years old but looks 35. He lies about his age, not through vanity, but so he can continue living the life he wants to lead, which means avoiding permanent employment, and sleeping with alnost every woman he meets. Suddenly he finds that he has gotten stuck. He is becoming far too successful in his job public relations work in Dallas and is now due for promotion, and he discovers that he seems to have been married for several years to one woman, Erlene Lamprey, who owns one book in the world and whose. "idea of outdoors was a windchime in front of the A/C." It is time to light out for the Territory, like Huck Finn.

But at the end of the century, in the heart of Dallas, there s not much territory to light out for. Ricocheting from one bar to another, and frightened half to death by a succession of terrible, sharp chest pains, Doug skedaddles into the world of memories: the sharp scents and colors of youth; the precious polished cars and toys and girls of his early years. Guided by an amiable young drifter, with whom he identifies, and seduced by a sweet-and-sour teenaged "Southern girl," he exits the no-exit freeways of 990 and immerses himself in the past.

In other words, Doug Hoover has died. The Hereafter Gang is a posthumous fantasy. Like similar work by a wide variety of writers, from Vladimir Nabokov to Flann O Brien, from John Crowley to Gene Wolfe, it tells of a hero who, after the death of the body, must sift through the materials of the life he has left in order to make sense of his naked soul. But posthumous fantasies tend to slide all too easily into intolerable solitude, as the hero narrows in on himself; and it is here that Barrett leaps sideways from his models. The posthumous landscapes visited by Doug are peopled: the folk he loved, the small towns he grew up in, the beverages he drank, the World War I planes he made models of, the Western heroes he emulated, all congregate. His search for order turns into a clambake.

At this point, the novel risks becoming a feelgood traipse through theme park suburbs of the dead, full of portion-control sweetness and light. It is a dangerous moment, but Barrett gets past it with great skill. After all the sleek contrivance of the plot, and the strange exhilaration of a posthumous landscape next to which the real world seems impossibly scarred and tawdry, The Hereafter Gang finds itself in the American soul of its hero. In Doug, Barrett has created a figure too complex and ornery to sort himself out glibly, and too American to go quietly into the good night; an awful man, and almost a great one. Nothing Doug has done in his life is alien to him, nothing is turned away. The dreadful and the garish and the good, he embraces it all. The Hereafter Gang is a celebration of this embrace. It is one of the great American novels. Try to find it. (WASHINGTON POST (hardback edition)Sunday, June 30, 1991) -- WASHINGTON POST Sunday, June 30, 1991


Product Details

  • File Size: 544 KB
  • Print Length: 348 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Crossroad Press; Crossroad Press Digital Edition edition (December 16, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00868IKDC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,432 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally back in print! January 3, 2000
By D. Read
Format:Paperback
The Washington Post review, quoted above, says it better than I can hope to. This is a really great book. As the review says, "It is one of the great American novels. Try to find it." Unfortunately, you've always had to dig to find this book. As I write this, it's been out of print for eight or nine years. If you were not already familiar with the sf/fantasy/horror/fantastic/genre scene of specialty publishers, you'd have had a hard time knowing this book was ever published. Neal Barrett is just too off the wall for mainstream publishers to understand or categorize for marketing purposes.
Unfortunately, not much has changed for The Hereafter Gang. Mojo Press, like Ziesing in 1991, has done a great job presenting this book, and I thank them for finally bringing it back into print. Luckily, though, in the year 2000 we now have the internet and Amazon.com, and souls like yourself have a slightly better chance of stumbling across this great book.
The Hereafter Gang is definitely different--from most other books, and from the rest of Barrett's awesome body of work. I guess you could call it "magical realism." It has elements of the fantastic, but it's not a genre or "category" book. It will appeal to those with an appreciation for fantastic fiction, but the sheer brilliance of the writing will also hook those with a more traditional literary bent. As you can surmise from the above Washington Post review, Barrett really goes out on a narrative limb here, but he pulls it off impressively. Buy this before it goes out of print again.
You should also try the rest of Barrett's work, though you might need to comb the used book stores for the stuff that's out of print.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun-filled journey through the Hereafter... November 23, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Hearafter Gang, by Neal Barrett, Jr., was quite a unique experience for me in my reading choices. I usually pick a story with a more contemporary style of writing and characters, but I was intrigued by this book. I am glad that I bought it. This was a fun read with some hilarious, uncontemporary characters that kept me grinning an entertained. I highly recommend this book to any reader looking for a "different" and thoroughly enjoyable trip to the hereafter.

Gaston Sanders, Author
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where everthing costs a nickel December 17, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
4.5 of 5 Stars. Review copy

Originally published in 1991, Barrett's novel, The Hereafter Gang remains fresh. A bold tour de force, the work is much like an Almond Joy or Mounds candy bar. It's indescribably delicious.

Kudos to David Wilson at Crossroad Press Publishing for getting works like this back to the public via ebooks. Although, I've not been able to sort out who is responsible for the cover of this version, special props to them for capturing the spirit of the book.

The Hereafter Gang is the story of Douglas Hoover and his journey to the other side. Only he doesn't quite realize that's what is happening. His marriage to Erlene is about done and he's had it with his job and he just takes off with his cat, Mousebreath (what a great name for a cat).

There is a stream of consciousness feel to Barrett's storytelling. Having grown up in the Nazarene Church, I found his character Doug's take on the denomination rather intriguing. "He has other word problems linked with religion. He wonders about the Nazarene Church. It seems unlikely they are in any way connected to the Nazis. Still, these are the only two words he knows that begin with these letters." All those years I spent as a Nazarene and that thought never once crossed my mind.

It strikes me that The Hereafter Gang is somewhat like a twisted, bizzarro-world version of one of Garrison Keiller's Tales From Lake Wobegone, filled with gem after gem like this, "Doug had to choose between a Nehi Orange and a Grapette. An agonizing decision. He seldom slept Friday nights before a game. He loved Grapette, but the Nehi Orange was much bigger. Grapette came in tiny little bottles you could finish in two gulps. He knew what he wanted which was two Grapettes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Book November 18, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
The Hereafter Gang is a wonderful book. It's a road novel, a journey both real and unreal, a trip into the past and the future, and one of the best books you'll read this year. Neal Barrett, Jr., can write rings around most anybody, and this is his finest hour.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quirky, unconventional, and deeply moving delight! November 18, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This is an American classic, one of the wildest, craziest, most fun, and at the same time, most moving novels I've ever read. It's one of those books that deserves a much wider audience, the kind that you'll loan or recommend to a friend after you finish reading it. Neal Barrett's voice is distinctive in American literature -- you need to hear it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique experience December 8, 2013
By Juha K.
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a hard book to pin down. It shifts quickly and without warning between the everyday and the magical, the crude and the poetic, the past and the present. It seems equally at home describing unusual flavors of female genitalia as it does going on about Old West gunslingers. Neal Barrett Jr. takes you from rural Texas of the past to a modern-day advertising agency to a childhood paradise where everything costs a nickel. Along the way he keeps dropping phrases and metaphors other writers would kill for, sometimes at a pace that seems almost wasteful.

I cannot think of many books to compare "The Hereafter Gang" with – only "Stone Junction" by Jim Dodge comes to mind. They share poetic language, an occasionally frenetic pace and a sense of the surreal, and both are written by authors who should have gotten more attention than they have. However, both are still quite unique in their own way.

I usually prefer to make my reviews fairly precise, but this is not a book that lends itself well to categorizing or "read this if you like X" type recommendations. What is clear is that it is the kind of book that can become a new lifelong favorite for the right reader. If you are on the fence, I would say "jump".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but I wanted funnier
Not nearly as much fun as I expected. But if you're from around here (Austin TX), it's just like takin' a short road trip. Quick read, and not as confusing as I first thought. Read more
Published 6 months ago by JKM
2.0 out of 5 stars Good Idea Hobbled By Poor Execution
A loser hallucinates through a series of sexual and symbolic adventures. Barrett is a good writer, a close observer of people and organizations (he has some very funny things to... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Crusty Critic
4.0 out of 5 stars Special book
Until a couple of months ago, I'd never heard of Neil Barrett Jr. So I was a little sad to learn that he passed away earlier this year. Read more
Published 10 months ago by D. Blanchard
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny. Smart.
Can't believe I haven't heard of this guy before. I'd read his Sears catalogue. I'll be looking into more of this author's works. It's fun and irreverent stuff. I loved it.
Published 13 months ago by B Bopper
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a re-read someday.
I enjoyed this book. I discovered it because Joe R. Lansdale name-checked it in one of his books.
If you like quirky humor, consider this one.
Published 13 months ago by Dan Schul
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale that's like a lazy cat stretching
If I have to sum up The Hereafter Gang in one word it would be “nostalgia”. That’s the only way to truly encapsulate what this book is about. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Nerine Dorman
1.0 out of 5 stars Underbelly of the afterlife
Amazon tells you to star-rate books according to whether you liked them. I hated this, but that's just me. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ellis Lawrence
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
A great way to exercise without the feeling of doing a work out, just moving to the music I grew up with
Published 14 months ago by Denise
1.0 out of 5 stars Disgusting
I would not recommend this book. Could not finish it because of the language and the disrespect it shows of women. It is a sick book
Published 14 months ago by Linda
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible
Sorry folks, I could find no redeeming qualities in this at all!!! It starts out with main character having nothing good to say about his wife and dreaming of ways to get rid of... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Steck
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