Customer Reviews for

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

Average Rating 4
( 75 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(45)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(5)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Funny, poignant, mind-expanding journey through possibility space

I heard the author on NPR and loved the fact that he said his mission was to "celebrate the vastness of our ignorance" and "shine the flashlight around the possibility space". So I picked up the book and was not disappointed. The 40 stories in this book are extremely ...
I heard the author on NPR and loved the fact that he said his mission was to "celebrate the vastness of our ignorance" and "shine the flashlight around the possibility space". So I picked up the book and was not disappointed. The 40 stories in this book are extremely mind-stretching, but never in a heavy-handed way -- they are always spun out with humor and unexpected turns and twists.
In this book, the author makes the clever move of using the afterlife as a playing field in which to highlight the character of our current lives. Each story takes an imaginative, unexpected starting point (like, God is a married couple, or God is the size of a bacterium) and extrapolates that out in a tightly-written narrative where you are the main character. And then, just when you think you understand the trajectory of the story, there is a poignant twist in the final lines that makes you re-think the whole thing. I found the structure of this book brilliant and enviable. Through telling 40 contradictory stories of what an afterlife could be, the author sends a message that it's appropriate to be expansive in our thinking rather than boxed in. Two thumbs up from me for this lovely book.

posted by ChanChan on May 17, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Not Clever Enough

Though some of the stories are clever enough too many of them feel forced - as if the author struggled to find enough variants on the afterlife theme to compose a book. I bought the book on the strength of a review in the Wall Street Journal but I was generally disappo...
Though some of the stories are clever enough too many of them feel forced - as if the author struggled to find enough variants on the afterlife theme to compose a book. I bought the book on the strength of a review in the Wall Street Journal but I was generally disappointed. A few gems but a lot of slag.

posted by Antonius_Marcus_Lucius on April 13, 2009

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