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Reincarnation Blues: A Novel Hardcover – August 22, 2017
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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“Tales of gods and men akin to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman as penned by a kindred spirit of Douglas Adams.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
About the Author
Michael Poore’s short fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, Southern Review, Agni, Fiction, and Asimov’s. His story “The Street of the House of the Sun” was selected for The Year’s Best Nonrequired Reading 2012. His first novel, Up Jumps the Devil, was hailed by The New York Review of Books as “an elegiac masterpiece.” Poore lives in Highland, Indiana, with his wife, poet and activist Janine Harrison, and their daughter, Jianna.
Top customer reviews
By Bob Gelms
Well, I have to pass this along. According to Michael Poore in his latest, Reincarnation Blues, the whole “death” thing is nothing like we have come to expect it to be. First off, the moment you die you get an escort and not, surprisingly enough, the Grim Reaper, Death, the Pale Rider, or Satan.
In this case, Death is a woman named Susie who isn’t scary at all and her job has been greatly exaggerated. She escorts you to see two old women, Mama and Nan. It is they who decide whether or not you have used your life to become one with the universe, gain total wisdom, or get it right. Apparently, you get 10,000 opportunities and then awaiting you is eternal oblivion.
Our hero, Milo, is eaten by a shark this time around. Milo had already used up 9,995 lives and Nan and Mama were more than a little impatient because Milo still hadn’t figured it all out. They had a strong suspicion that he was doggin’ it because, you see, Milo was hopelessly in love with Death……sorry……Suzie.
Nan and Mama figured Milo liked dying so he could be with Suzie for a while before he had to go back and try for total enlightenment one more time. He only had five chances left. Nan and Mama were so upset they started sending him back as a bug and other humiliating things but Milo kept putting himself in harm's way.
Among other methods of dying, Milo had had a steel girder dropped on him, was executed three times, beheaded in China, hanged, shot, crushed, speared, run over by a chariot, and died 14 times in combat. His favorite death, however was when he was captured by the Turks and flung by catapult back over the wall at Vienna. Awaiting him at the end was his true love, Death…..I’m sorry….Suzie. She was always waiting for him.
If you believe in evolution, please note: you don’t come from dust, no matter what they say. You come from water and you go back to water when you die. Milo woke up by water virtually every time he died and Suzie was there waiting. She loved Milo. Together they hatched a complicated plot where they would go back together and live happily ever after. That wasn't working out too well. So, Suzie was prepared to quit her job. She was the only Death. There was no precedent.
As I hope you have guessed by now, this is a wildly imaginative novel after the fashion of a 20th century master, Kurt Vonnegut. In my opinion Mr. Vonnegut’s best novel is Cat’s Cradle and Mr. Poore’s book has a lot of the same themes in it. They both have different styles and Mr. Poore does not try to be Kurt Vonnegut. They both have very different strengths. They are both exceptionally funny. I laughed out loud a few dozen times at Reincarnation Blues, mostly at Milo’s mischievousness. The book is an unequivocal joy to read.
I’m not sure Mr. Poore was saying anything cosmically profound through the characters of Nan and Mama, though come to think of it maybe he was. They seem to take the place of God. Death could very well be a woman and God could be two old biddies. Anything at all beats the portrayal of God in the Old Testament. Who the hell am I to say?
Milo is supposed to represent all humans and Death….sorry…Suzie represents part of immortal beings we know nothing about. After reading Mr. Poore’s book I no longer believe in Death. I do however believe in Suzie. She is everything I want the Grim Reaper to be. I might, if I could, point out the obvious: there is absolutely no mention of hell anywhere in the book. None of the characters seem to have read Dante’s Inferno.
Nan and Mama are the caretakers of humanity, surely a better job for God than the Supreme Threatener, the Almighty Smiter of Cities, the Celestial Bringer of Floods, or the Cosmic Vendor of Hellfire and Brimstone.
It would be utterly pointless for Mr. Poore to write a sequel, as this book is as close to perfect as you can get. Everything works astonishingly well and “a good time is guaranteed for all.”
Enter at your own risk; Reincarnation Blues will not leave you alone. It will keep poking you in the chest until you finish it and then it will live on in vivid Technicolor inside your head.” What a long strange trip it’s been.”
We follow Milo through a number of his lives. Lives can be as anything; trees, kings, cats, pirates, slugs, slaves, male, female, poor, rich, whatever. He comes *close* to perfection, but somehow always screws it up at the end. The lives are pretty interesting; short tales of near perfection in a prison, turning around the human race on a different prison world where the Water Cartels run everything; and tiny tales, a page long or less, of marching in Selma Ala., and hiding a cache of Polish pornography from the Nazis. Some tales of being not so nice a person. He also has adventures between lives, too- the afterlife is quite a busy place. The whole book is a collection of short stories, with Milo (he tends to keep that name throughout) as the star of them all. Some parts are horrific, some are very funny- his style reminds me of Christopher Moore (and, at times, of certain periods of Robert Heinlein’s work)- but for some reason, Milo never seems to take anything seriously. It made it a little difficult for me to really feel for him. Suzie isn’t around enough to make a real connection with her. I really enjoyed the book- it’s a lot of fun!- but for some reason I just can’t make it five stars. Four stars out of five.
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From this author’s pen comes thousands of worlds and countless lifetimes.
Because the author takes us on an enlightening journey filled with...Read more