Fields of Asphodel

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This highly stylized take on the afterlife is the latest installment in Perdue's chronicle of Leland "Lee" Pefley, the cantankerous Alabaman (following The Sweet-Scented Manuscript). This time out, Lee wakes up from his death in an unpredictable landscape that bears a faint resemblance to his native Alabama, except the sun seems paperlike, seasons don't work the way they should, and it's very cold. Though he's dead, Lee is still 73, still afflicted by hemorrhoids and still a pedant and a misanthrope. Lee has landed with a band of egotists, so they don't like him much either. He longs for and goes in search of his wife, Judy, who predeceased him and who, in Lee's untrustworthy eyes, is a paragon of femininity: modest, supportive, aware of her place. Lee is something like an erudite version of Beckett's Watt or Malone, but lacks the post-WWII context and the lyricism that gives those characters their historical dimension. Perdue has more in common with the poet Ed Dorn, who went after America using some of its highest and lowest forms (booksellers, the rich and "male feminists" come in for razzing), but while there are some very funny scenes and arresting lines, the book comes across more like Stanley Elkin's jokey The Living Endthan its great modernist predecessors. (July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Curmudgeonly classical Greek scholar Leland Pelfey, who despises all things contemporary and regrets the passage of "the pre-post-modern world, obsolete these seventy years," finds himself in an eerie "anti-world" that is "no afterworld, no, but rather the same planet he had known." He resumes the quest to find his deceased wife and his struggles against the forces of cultural mediocrity, begun in Leeand The New Austerities. Lee joins a seemingly endless hegira with a ragtag band of egoists but is so arrogant that he even rejects the friendship of a Latin scholar, considering the Romans second-rate despoilers of the Greek legacy. Lee is so prickly, uncompromising, and thoroughly unlikable that his constant frustrations, travails, and hardships are a source of guilty pleasure. He makes some very good points about contemporary society but in a way that alienates potential allies in both the living world and the "anti-world." Perdue's books may become cult classics but are unlikely to be of general interest. Recommended for larger academic and public libraries only. [Leewill be rereleased in paperback simultaneously with Fields of Asphodel.-Ed.]
—Jim Dwyer

Kirkus Reviews
The aged antihero of Perdue's black comedy Lee (1991) returns to explore a largely disappointing afterlife. When Leland Pefley awakes, frozen and stiff, in a bleak landscape of decaying pines, he has no sense of confusion or displacement. Rather, as he proclaims in the opening sentence, he is quite sure that he has died. Lee also seems to immediately understand that for him the afterlife will be a quest, or at least a journey. He takes a quick survey of his possessions-a cane, eyeglasses, matches, a little money and even fewer cigarettes-and begins to walk. He falls in with some fellow travelers, segregated by classes according to the number of blankets each is able to hold onto, and quickly finds that hunger, thirst, cold and hemorrhoids are among the many human annoyances that death has not erased. In fact, while the landscape of his afterlife isn't quite the same as his actual life, it is astonishingly familiar. Lee has one particular purpose: searching (or hankering, as he says) for his wife Judy, who died years before he did. Lee's romantic yearnings are convincing, as he summons details of Judy's physical appearance, the books she had read and the property they had shared. But ultimately the quest turns out to be less about Judy and more about Lee. In an oddly Wizard of Oz-like moment, he comes to understand the world that he had navigated, both before and after death, and to recognize what had been important to him before he became a jaded old man. An emotional parable with an oddly bleak, Beckettian tone. Agent: Stephany Evans/Imprint Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585678716
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 7/19/2007
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2008

    A reviewer

    Fields of Asphodel is the story of the afterlife of Lee Pefley, the hero of Lee, also by Tito Perdue. After Lee dies in the book that bears his name as title, he wakes up and is surprised to find the world much as he left it. He wanders through this awful place hoping irrationally to come across the wife who predeceased him. She leaves some clues that he tries to follow before they vanish. An extremely well-written book, and the most recent in the Lee Pefley series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2009

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