Jim Morrison's Adventures in the Afterlife: A Novelby Mick Farren
Part devil, part angel, the specter of Jim Morrison has haunted America's consciousness since his premature death in 1971. His spirit seemed dark, and the graphic despair of his Lizard King persona reigned supreme in his lifetime, but Jim Morrison died with a smile on his face. Was his journey through the afterlife as tumultuous as his journey through life? This is
Part devil, part angel, the specter of Jim Morrison has haunted America's consciousness since his premature death in 1971. His spirit seemed dark, and the graphic despair of his Lizard King persona reigned supreme in his lifetime, but Jim Morrison died with a smile on his face. Was his journey through the afterlife as tumultuous as his journey through life? This is the question Mick Farren answers in his fascinatingly complex novel based on one of the twentieth century's most enigmatic figures.
Jim Morrison's Adventures in the Afterlife picks up the story of Morrison as he hurtles through a purgatory-like afterlife in search of some way to bring his soul to peace. Along the way he finds Doc Holliday--and together they find themselves chasing the restless fire-and-brimstone evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, whose soul has broken after death into two warring halves. McPherson's sexier half becomes the object of Jim's obsession, and as the two struggle to find each other in this disordered land, their wild, careening chase through a dozen dystopiae recalls imagined worlds as diverse as Burgess's A Clockwork Orange or Terry Gilliam's Brazil.
This is a daring, hilarious romp through the landfill of millennial society. Possessed of an imagination that rivals that of any of our edgiest fantasists, steeped in the detritus and ephemera of three decades of pop culture, Mick Farren has crafted in this new novel a bizarre and compelling fantasia.
- St. Martin's Press
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- NOOK Book
- Sales rank:
- File size:
- 1 MB
Read an Excerpt
Say what you like, folks always
make a big deal over death.
Aimee McPherson stood on the terrace and stared balefully acrossthe landscape of Heaven. For perhaps the two millionth time sinceher death, her rage at the manner in which God had betrayed herboiled to one of its cyclical peaks. How dare He, if indeed He existedat all, treat her with such unconscionable treachery? She haddone so much on His behalf. She had avoided temptations, bypassedindulgences, forgone the pleasures of the flesh. She had sacrificed tothe maximum in His name and, from her perspective, He had cynicallybetrayed her. Her entire life had hinged on a single belief inwhich she had placed absolute trust. He had promised a Heavenwhen she died. That He then so totally reneged on the deal transcendedthe criminal and took the burden of guilt to a new level ofdivine iniquity. Aimee McPherson had arrived in the Afterlife onlyto discover that, if she wanted a Heaven, she was expected to buildit herself. God Himself had failed to put in even the most cursorymanifestation, and she had begun to doubt that He actually existedat all.
If there was a God, He appeared to believe that this psychic erectorset would be ample reward for a lifetime of love and devotion, ofprayer, praise, and supplication. He had presented her with a blankcelestial slate and left her to make it up for herself. After all thepromises, the only Heaven she had received or perceived had comedirectly out of her own imagination, without help, without encouragement,without even the benefit of aninstruction manual.
Aimee McPherson stood on the terrace and stared balefullyacross the landscape of Heaven and knew that it was entirely herown creation. This should have pleased her, if for no other reasonthan that of pride in accomplishment. Pride in accomplishment,however, counted for little beside abandonment by God. ThisHeaven had been torn, at a great cost of emotion and energy, pieceby piece and construct by construct, from the deepest soul core ofher imagination, and the effort of its manufacture had not beeneasy. Back on Earth, from the moment that she had devoted herselfto God and His works, she'd had little call to use her imagination,and now she found it a weakened and atrophied thing. CreatingHeaven from the ground up had been a struggle and chore, imposedon her at exactly the time she was expecting only relief. Heavenshould have been ready and waiting for her when she arrived, spick-and-span,fluffed and folded, like some metaphysical five-star hotelwith Saint Peter to greet her at the reception desk, angelic bellhopsto assist her, a deputation of long-deceased pets waiting for her withsoulful eyes and wagging tails, and a metaphoric complimentarymint on the pillow.
Even coming up with an overall design concept had been no easything. At first she had leaned heavily on what she remembered ofthe work of the artist Maxfield Parrish, coupled with no slight touchof Disney's Fantasia. This early borrowing, and her admittedlyflawed memory, tended to account for the overly vibrant cartooncolors, the wine-dark indigo of the water in the lake, the dazzlingultramarine of the cloudless sky, the deep somber green of thecypresses and Scotch pines on the headland on the far side of thewater. The heliotrope of the ice-cream mountains in the far distanceand the velvet unreality of the immaculate daisy-flecked grassthat ran down to the water's edge, drawn directly from the Disneyschool, was, if anything, less plausible. She had to admit that theway the outcropping of raw, gold-veined marble tended to resemblesome strange, overripe, processed cheese food was actually her ownfault. She seemed to be incapable of producing authentic-lookingminerals, much in the way that some people can't draw hands. TheMaxfield Parrish memory also accounted for the presence of thesmall neoclassic temple over on the promontory that projected intothe lake some two hundred yards from where she was standing. Parrishhad inspired the half dozen diaphanously clad virgins whodanced, hand in hand, perky and unflagging sprites, endlessly circlingin a dance with basic choreography in the interpretive traditionof Isadora Duncan. Disney, on the other hand, had providedthe fawns, bunnies, and happy little bluebirds that cavorted in theair above, whistling and cheeping the melodies of saccharine popballads of the thirties, forties, and fifties, as Aimee stood on the terraceregarding her Creation.
As though sensing, if not her actual thoughts, certainly her generalmood, a lone bluebird darted to within eighteen inches of herface and hung hovering, smiling blandly and whistling disjointedsnatches of "Over the Rainbow." Suddenly furious, Aimee snarledand swatted at the bird. "Get away from me, you inane figment! Getthe hell away from me!"
The bird deftly dodged her slapping hand, but then only retreatedsome six inches and continued to hover. It started to whistle thechorus from "Swinging on a Star." This time she swung at the bluebirdwith a clenched and unexpectedly accurate fist. The blow connected,taking the bluebird completely by surprise. It staggered back,cartoon-style on empty air, with small stars, suns, and planets circlingits head. Aimee allowed herself a grim smile. "That'll teachyou to screw around with me, you flying rodent."
The bluebird shook itself in midair, shedding three feathers thatdrifted lazily down to the terrace. The bird looked at her reproachfullyand then zigzagged away to join its companions. Aimee glaredafter it. "I ought to erase the whole bunch of you and start all overagain."
In moments of self-doubt, anxiety, and depression, Aimee wouldcastigate herself for concocting a Heaven that resembled nothingmore than a very bad animated painting on black velvet, set to asoundtrack of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs blended with NewAge elevator music. In the depths of this emotional trough, shefound it all too easy to believe that even her own creations, thebluebird included, were turning against her and secretly laughing ather presumptuous ambition. Fortunately, after she discovered thatboth Prozac and Valium could be conjured out of the air merely bythinking about them, she was able to ensure that the frequency ofsuch moods was strictly limited, and she began to find both the constructionof Heaven and the contemplation of the finished product agreat deal less stressful.
For a time, she had half believed that God might come to her,like some crowning glory or ceremonial prize, when Heaven wasfinally completed to both His and her satisfaction. This belief had finallywilted and died, however, when God failed to put in Hismuch-anticipated appearance. After no manifest rainbow, no pillarof fire, not so much as a lousy dove, her attitude had changed andher resolution hardened. If God was going to forsake her so casually,she, doing as she had been done by, would likewise forsake Him.She would continue to extend her Heaven, and it would be open toall who came. It would be exactly what every Christian soul neededand expected after the trauma of death and its immediate aftermath,right down to the very last golden sunbeam, faithful collie, and cascadingwaterfall. The only difference was that she would provide thegodhead herself. She would make herself the focus of the cumulativepraise and adoration; she would be the happy recipient of the laudingand magnifying. She knew that it might take a certain degree ofadjustment, particularly on the part of the males, before they couldaccept her as the legitimate deity. On the other side of the coin, shewould have the instant loyalty of all those feminists who maintainedthat God was a woman. She was aware that there might be a numberof unwavering fundamentalists who, even in death, would refuseto accept a fait accompli as to the legitimacy of her divinity. Forthem, of course, there was always Golgotha and the Pit.
In life, the idea of beating God at His own game would have beenthe ultimate blasphemy. Here in the Afterlife, it felt more as thoughshe and God were on a level footing, and the concept of blasphemydemanded a noticeable inequality between blasphemer and blasphemed.Blasphemy was a mortal sin, after all, and she was nolonger mortal. Of course, should God finally notice and take exceptionto her efforts, she would be glad to fall down and worship Him.If He chose to cast her to the fire or otherwise chastise her for herpresumption, so be it. At least she would have His attention.
At first her plans had not been too grandiose. Heaven would be amodest, fairly exclusive place, a Club Paradise, with just roomenough for her and a few million faithful who might choose to followand dwell with her. Unfortunately, Aimee McPherson, possessedof that megalomaniac drive and absolute certainty ofambition that is almost unique to evangelical preachers, found itdifficult to retain a modest attitude toward anything for very long.As a concept, her Paradise grew and grew until she knew the onlylogical conclusion was to engage in a Holy Mission, perhaps an actualCrusade, to forcibly reconfigure the entire Plane of the Afterlifeto her image of Heaven. Only then would the newly dead know forcertain that the biblical promises and predictions were true, thatcovenants had been kept, even if she was filling in for the absenteeAlmighty. Unfortunately, her powers of creation were unable tomatch the scope of the concept. For a while, she and Semple hadstill been a part of the same single entity; warring factions, perhaps,but at least united under quasi-flesh. They had managed to work together.Aimee had done the expansion; Semple had filled in the details.Increasingly, though, Semple had used the construction ofHeaven as a vent for her perverse sensuality, her willful pride, andher invert's delight in the sick and abominable. Aimee's Heaven becamelittered with small pockets of the irrational and the warped,many too disgusting even to cite in passing, and the split betweenthe two of them had shown itself as manifestly inevitable.
In the end, the conflicted sisters, Aimee and Semple, had facedreality and divided, by a unique binary fission of their own inventingthat made them two instead of one. Aimee had compensated for theloss of what amounted to half of her personality by becoming evenmore obsessive about the transformation of her personal Paradiseinto what she increasingly thought of as the Omniheaven. Withoutthe Omniheaven, she was nothing but another previous human livingin a world concocted from delusions and fantasy gratifications. Ifshe couldn't bend others to her perspective, she was no differentfrom the fool who pretended he was Moses and staged quasi-Cinemascope,biblical spectacles so he could spend eternity righteouslysmiting sinners of his own creating, forever and ever, worldwithout end, amen. Although Aimee didn't care to admit it, even toherself, the removal of her sister from the original and essentiallyschizoid personality had taken with it many of the previous checksand constraints. Aimee discovered that her manic enthusiasms andheadlong obsessions tended to run faster since Semple's departure,always more reckless and always at full flood. Likewise the depressionstended to mire her even more deeply. In divorce from her apparentlydangerous dark half, Aimee had herself become darker andmore dangerous.
Once split, the sisters had maintained little contact, althoughthey were constantly aware one of the other, and were capable of afrightening empathy. Semple kept mostly to herself, indulging inher dubious amusements and pastimes in the environment that shehad created since the one had become two. Aimee had never visitedthe place, but she had the impression that it was a replication ofSemple's idea of Hell. In many respects, this fit serendipitously wellwith Aimee's master plan. Her Heaven, counterbalanced by her sister'sequal and opposite Hell; a positively Newtonian theology. Thisdidn't mean, on the other hand, that she had any plans to visit theplace.
Separation also didn't keep Semple from deliberately devisingways to irritate her from afar. At all-too-regular intervals, her sisterwould play some minor prank, causing a black and sinister helicopterto clatter across Aimee's azure sky, disturbing the fleecyclouds with its violent prop wash, or sending a flock of maliciousand predatory birds to settle in the cypress trees and stare at her withbleak, beady, Alfred Hitchcock eyes until they abruptly left andflapped away to the other side of the sunset. Semple also had a habitof removing the odd cherub or angel for her own nasty amusement.Although Aimee could hardly approve, these abductions were of littleimportance. Angels could always be replaced.
At that moment, however, Aimee had more pressing matters onher mind than Semple and her games. The master plan was hardlycoming to fast fruition, and Aimee had to admit that she lacked theimagination required to conjure a suitably infinite Celestial Vault.What she needed was a helper. A Michelangelo who would labor inher Sistine Chapel. What she needed was a visionary whom shecould bend to her will and inculcate with her vision, and who wouldhelp her make Heaven the place that it really ought to be. For awhile she had considered making overtures to the phony Moses; thesize and elaboration of some of his spectacles certainly bespoke ameasure of power and directorial talent. They also indicated, if bynothing other than their bizarre repetition, that the Moses guy wasbarking crazy. Despite, in theory, having all eternity in which towork on it, Aimee knew she would never bend him to her will. Hisinsanity was too inflexible. What she really needed was an artist, apainter or a poet, one who was fresh from death or otherwise clean-slated,without preconceptions and totally vulnerable to suggestionand manipulation.
As with so many of her recent trains of thought, the railroadeventually led back to Semple. Aimee knew she would need Semplein on this capture of a creative hireling. The artist would have to belocated. He would have to be kept ignorant and off balance, andthen be brought to her quickly before he could develop any inclinationsor preferences of his own. Aimee knew she wasn't the halfwith the capacity to accomplish this. It was Semple who had thenecessary cunning and seductive charm. It was Semple who wouldhave to find and snare the poet or painter for her, and persuadingher sister to accept the assignment would not be easy, unless Aimeecould somehow appeal to her innate perversity.
As Aimee turned away from her less-than-satisfactory landscapeand walked back along the terrace, an uninvited vision wanderedaimlessly into her mind. A young man, wild dark curls, a sensualpout, and thumbs in the conchoed belt of a pair of narcissisticallytight leather pants strolled idly down a dusty road, roughing the dirtwith the heels of his worn engineer boots, dragging on a cigarette.He clearly had no place in Aimee's design and she consigned athunderbolt to the vision, garbaging it before it could grow or develop.The young man staggered, stunned, and left her mind. Theobvious first reaction was to blame Semple, and Aimee would certainlyquiz her on the intrusion, but she knew instinctively that theapparition of the strange young man was something other than oneof Semple's annoyances. She also hoped he wasn't a portent of futureproblems.
* * *
Jim Morrison shook his head, trying to clear it. Had he beenmauled? Mindfucked? Struck by lightning? Large parts of his consciousnesswere wastelands of fractured shards, data retrieval had becomehistory. Sometime, someplace, someone had royally flamed hismemory, though he couldn't recall where or when. He had a flash ofsun, dust, and a back road, idly dreaming of an ice-cold beer, but itwas such a brief sparkling fragment it could provide not even apointer to the thread of a real story. So it went with most of hismind. All he knew about himself was that he had once been a poetand that, at least for the time being, he would be forced to live absolutelyin a highly specialized moment where even the mundaneappeared strange and unexplored, and reality checks could onlycome via the benevolence of the passing crowd.
One of the few things about which Jim Morrison was certain wasthat his true death had not occurred on that dusty back road. Allthoughts of his true death conjured fragmented but repeated impressionsof lukewarm water, a womblike tub, and the city of Paris. Beyondthat, all he could retrieve was a useless combination of details,motor skills, and unrelated images. One major problem was that, forthe time being, his own name was one of the things that determinedlyeluded him. He could read and write, he could rememberthe names of songs and the titles of books. He knew enough to puthis pants on one leg at a time and zip the fly when he was done. Therest was a destructed jigsaw of fear, rage, and unhappiness, both hisown and others'. A woman ran with her hair on fire, smoke driftingacross a bleak concrete freeway lined with withered palms andchoked with frightened cars, while a threatening red sun on thehazy horizon struggled to shine through that same smoke. Blindhorses drowned in slate-gray ocean and Indians died on the sands ofa sterile desert.
He sincerely hoped the apparent garbaging of his memory waspurely temporary. Painful as it might prove, it was his and he wantedit back. He was fairly optimistic that it would one day return. Something,possibly a perceived familiarity with advanced and multipleintoxication, told him that his life on Earth had been replete withblackouts and memory lapses, and suggested that this could well be acosmic version of the same condition. If it was, he had only himselfto blame. One of his most profound desires, when he had foundhimself discorporated at such an unexpectedly early age, was that hecould somehow avoid the thereafter being merely a rerun of thesame drugged, drunk, chaotic shambles. As far as he could tell, andto his eternal shame, his resolve wasn't holding up too well.
The immediate concrete fact before Jim was that he had suddenlyfound himself at a party, and he knew enough to realize that it wasno ordinary party. Jim had no clear idea of how or why he had arrivedthere, but it was plain that this Cecil B. DeMille production ofhowling, dancing, undulating vice was full of others who had renderedthemselves as mindless as he was. He could see the unmistakablevacancy in the eyes of a high percentage of the revelers. They,too, had sacrificed mind and memory to the specific moment; forthem, it was a moment of vibrance and abandon, a gratifying instantof tongues and hair, sweat and flesh, lips and liquidity. All setagainst the backdrop of a towering, slowly erupting volcano thatspewed majestic flows of bright, sulfurous, hellfire lava and sentthem slithering and easing their way sinuously down the upperslopes in ponderous slow motion. All around him, faces gleamedwith flame reflections of red-orange heat, and demon-black shadowscrouched among the crush of groaning, howling participants.
The thousand or more human beings who made up this plungingmass, plus the hundred or so other entities who couldn't quite beclassified, were crowded into a natural amphitheater at the base ofthe mountain. The set for this epic surrender to hedonism and sexualabandon was a flat-bottomed basin surrounded on three sides byhigh black basalt walls that looked to have been carved out of prehistoryby some vast, violent geological scoop. Within its confines,men and women, intoxicated to the borderline of psychosis, clawedand pawed at each other's greased, painted, and perfumed bodies.Some lay sprawled in spread-eagled abandon on the now damp andstained cushions that had been strewn across the floor of polishedstone, while others groped, staggered, and stumbled, bent on stayingon their feet come what might. Such clothing as had been wornback when the festivities had started was, for the most part, longsince shredded or ripped away, and, along with it, any sense of individualidentity, even on the most minimal level. The crowd had allbut merged into a single, moving, but apparently unthinking, entity.This lust-driven composite was a constant flux of wave motionsthat, at regular intervals, would erupt into screaming pockets ofmass hysteria or moaning cluster orgasm.
On a rock ledge above the seething crowd, Ethiopian drummers,their shining, oiled forms festooned with gold jewelry inlaid withturquoise and ivory, and their faces hidden by the fall of their drippingdreadlocks, pounded furiously on the hard hide heads ofleopardskin-draped kettledrums, rhythmically urging the already furiouscrowd to even greater frenzy. The drummers seemed all butoblivious to the women and men who crouched at their feet, seeminglyworshiping what they saw as the driving force of the orgiasticconfusion. Intrusive, urgent hands stroked the players' legs andshamelessly cupped their genitals and buttocks, but the ritual drummersmissed not so much as an inflection or accent. Even whenbold, eager tongues licked the very sweat from them, the beat wenton, relentlessly maintained, unwavering and unchallengeable.
Excerpted from Jim Morrison's Adventures in the Afterlife by MICK FARREN. Copyright © 1999 by Mick Farren. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Meet the Author
Mick Farren was born in Cheltenham, England on a wet night at the end of World War II and he has been complaining about it ever since. His fiction received attention in the late punk seventies with The DNA Cowboys cult trilogy. Through the 1980s and 1990s, he tempered cyberpunk with his own post-Burroughs, post-Lovecraft strangeness, while, at the same time functioning as a columnist, critic, recording artist, teaching a science fiction and horror course at UCLA, publishing a number of non-fiction works on popular culture, including a best selling biography of Elvis Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, and the bizarre-fashion history The Black Leather, and also providing Rock&Roll lyrics for bands like Metallica, Motorhead, Brother Wayne Kramer, and others. With Kramer, he created the off-Broadway musical The Last Words Of Dutch Schultz, and he has scripted a number of TV documentaries. He emerged into the 21st century with the critically acclaimed and suitably unorthodox vampire saga The Renquist Quartet, and the alternate world epic Flame Of Evil.
Farren lives in Los Angeles.
Mick Farren was born in Cheltenham, England on a wet night at the end of World War II. In the 1960s, he was a member of the psychedelic, proto-punk band The Deviants. His fiction received attention in the late punk seventies with The DNA Cowboys cult trilogy. Through the 1980s and 1990s, he tempered cyberpunk with his own post-Burroughs, post-Lovecraft strangeness, while at the same time functioning as a columnist, critic, and recording artist, teaching a science fiction and horror course at UCLA, publishing a number of non-fiction works on popular culture, including a best-selling biography of Elvis Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, and the bizarre-fashion history The Black Leather, and also providing Rock&Roll lyrics for bands like Metallica, Motorhead, Brother Wayne Kramer, and others. With Kramer, he created the off-Broadway musical The Last Words of Dutch Schultz, and he scripted a number of TV documentaries. He entered the 21st century with the critically acclaimed and suitably unorthodox vampire saga The Renquist Quartet, and the alternate world epic Flame of Evil. Farren died in London in July 2013.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
Somebody ought to take away this guy's license to write. I'm so annoyed I can't even write a proper review. If I could give it negative stars I would.
With surprisingly sweet ending
I love this book. It is so insiteful and it just plain rules. It really makes you think about the hereafter. YOU MUST READ IT!