RandomAnthony's Reviews > Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

Sum by David Eagleman
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
721021
's review
Jun 06, 10


In the afterlife you discover that all the goodreaders are in the same walled-off section of heaven. God greets you in the form of your ideal librarian. In the goodreads heaven library you witness the librarian gamut: examples include a fatherly professor, a stern but gentle middle-aged woman, and a supermodel in a plaid skirt with legs that won’t quit. If you are a seventeen year old girl God is a combination of Ben Harrison and that guy from 500 Days of Summer.

The more time you spent on goodreads the more status you have in heaven. When you first arrive God checks the library computer (there are never lines, as everyone’s different version of God has his/her own computer) and gives you a badge that displays your total hours logged onto goodreads. If you have logged many hours God shakes your hand, high-fives you, or blows you kisses. The people with the most time on their badges (these badges are gold) get the best tables at the goodreads heaven coffee shop and pick what the book clubs read. Ginny Jones is the coffee shop waitress but is never allowed to read any books. If you were involved in any goodreads fights, or ever deleted your profile, God wags his/her finger at you and makes you apologize to all involved parties. If the fight was especially egregious God makes you hug. In goodreads heaven you always look like your favorite avatar picture. In goodreads heaven you can always find your favorite place to read, whether it’s on the subway, your childhood bedroom, or the library’s corner chair. In goodreads heaven your favorite characters come to life. Many of the women goodreaders are walking around with men who look suspiciously like Jamie from Outlander.

The heaven goodreaders voted and decided that books should continue to have tangible form. They liked the smell of old pages, the feel of a trade paperback, and the sense of anticipation accompanying the moment when the librarian hands over your reserve order. Some dissenters lobbied that readers should only have to touch a cover to absorb a book’s contents, but just about everyone else said that was cheating. The dissenters were especially upset because they felt like everyone else had read Coetzee and Murakami and they wanted to catch up, but the majority ruled against them.

In goodreads heaven friend whores are in trouble. They are required to take every friend to dinner and listen to them talk for at least an hour. This was a reasonable punishment for those who wanted to pad their friends list, but God soon realized that this allowed creepy guys who only friended women the opportunity to talk with these women face to face. In turn these girl collectors can only talk with each other. They share tales of the best pics and attempt to interact with cute goodreaders but discover that, as if they were ghosts, no one but other girl collectors can see them.

In Goodreads heaven you meet David Eagleman, the author of Sum. You tell him you liked his book, for the most part, but wonder if he realizes that he stole “Graveyard of the Gods” from Neil Gaiman (Mr. Gaiman doesn’t have time to worry about this because goodreaders are chasing him all over heaven) and that some of the forty themes (e.g. heaven is so boring it’s hell, people get sick of immortality and volunteer for suicide) have been done before. You tell him some of his vignettes (“Mirrors”) are moving, while others (“Death Switch”) are funny and still more (“Blueprint”) thoughtful. You thank him for expanding consideration of the afterlife beyond our limited western hemisphere mindset. You admit that Sum didn’t rock your world but add that a few of your goodreads friends loved his book. He seems distracted and questions when he’ll meet these people. You also ask where you can find his publisher, since this book (which you got from the library, of course) lists for twenty bucks but takes less time to read than People magazine’s “best dressed” issue (not that, uh, you ever wasted a minute on magazines back on earth, of course not). Eagleman shrugs and walks off. Then you see your librarian with the next book on your reserve list. You blink to your perfect reading spot. You sip from a cup of coffee, all the time in the world, and open to the first page.


124 likes · Likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Sum.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-50 of 53) (53 new)


message 1: by Pinky (new)

Pinky After this, as a reward for your insight and your witty assessments, you get to sit next to God in goodreads heaven, and he'll whisper little jokes into your ear, or even more often you'll whisper into his, and all of the rest of us goodreaders will look on enviously.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Best. Review. Ever.

I've never been more proud to be a member of this fine society than right now.


message 3: by Newengland (new)

Newengland I think the friend whores part was alluding to goodreads hell (circle #6), not goodreads heaven. And if my wife went to this place, she'd be looking for some dude named Colin Firth from Pride and Prejudice... oh, wait a minute, that wasn't the name Jane used, was it. OK, then. She'd be looking for some dude named Mr. Darcy. This overdressed fop who looks awfully proud and who's probably packing a prejudice, too. You just have to look.


message 4: by Books Ring Mah Bell (last edited Jun 06, 2010 02:54PM) (new)

Books Ring Mah Bell and who, pray tell, is your ideal librarian, RA?
;)


message 5: by Misha (new)

Misha The more time you spent on goodreads the more status you have in heaven.

Woot!

If you were involved in any goodreads fights, or ever deleted your profile, God wags his/her finger at you and makes you apologize to all involved parties.

Oh. *blush*

Many of the women goodreaders are walking around with men who look suspiciously like Jamie from Outlander.

Or Eric from the Sookie Stackhouse series. *ahem*


message 6: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Totally best goodreads review ever. Seriously.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Sigh. I like goodreads heaven.


Jackie "the Librarian" Poor Neil Gaiman. I guess Goodreads heaven isn't HIS heaven.

Or, maybe it is... :)


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I tried to share this with my boyfriend but he said he does not care about goodreads heaven, except to say that he is glad I like it.

I'm glad I have you guys to share this stuff with.


message 10: by RandomAnthony (last edited Jun 06, 2010 06:02PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

RandomAnthony Thanks, people!

*Bells, I make one offhand comment on a message board...

* Misha, in goodreads heaven Jorge Luis Borges rewrites Twlight with more depth and meaning but retains the sexy Jacob/Edward rivalry. You won't need Eric!

* Ariel, your boyfriend will have to sit, lonely, on a park bench outside of goodreads heaven while you are inside. Tell him to bring a book...


message 11: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Ariel wrote: "I tried to share this with my boyfriend but he said he does not care about goodreads heaven, except to say that he is glad I like it."

I tried to explain what GR is to my husband and failed miserably, except I think I got him interested in the idea of SNIX (he's a programmer).


message 12: by Rachel (new)

Rachel **swoons**


message 13: by Ben (last edited Jun 07, 2010 03:44AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben I think these seventeen year old girls are going to be disappointed when they get to heaven and get an up close look at the scars on Ben Harrison's cheeks. : )

Awesome review, RA-- like everyone else, I loved it. Ya rawk, sir.


message 14: by Rachel (last edited Jun 07, 2010 06:06AM) (new)

Rachel Okay, Ben who? I totally missed that and read the "500 days of Summer" bit, thinking hey that dude reminds me of Heath Ledger.


message 15: by RandomAnthony (last edited Jun 07, 2010 06:00AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

RandomAnthony Thanks, Ben...please, those girls will dig you, along with the goth guys...

Heh. Ben Harrison posted just above you, Rachel, and he's damn good looking. I'm serious.


message 16: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Omg... Seriously?

@ Ben, HEY BEN! Just joking! eheh. You're good-looking in a non-Heath Ledger way! Cheers!


message 17: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Me thinks me's in trouble and me wonders if me got away with that...**breaks out in cold sweat**


message 18: by karen (new)

karen this just made me the happiest.

but it also makes me want to start being discriminating about my "friends" list.


RandomAnthony Karen, I think you get an exemption because you're so active and people want to friend you...I'm sure there's a celestial formula...:)


message 20: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Not to mention you give the some of the best reviews I've ever read.


message 21: by karen (new)

karen aw, sweet!

yeah, but i think a lot of them just want my email address so they can send me lots of spam - it has increased tenfold. and how can i turn anyone down just in case they start reading a book i have never heard of and it's, you know, "the one."


message 22: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Then hide your email address and tell people to use your GR inbox! It's there for a reason


message 23: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! You can hide your email address from view, in your account settings.


message 24: by karen (new)

karen ha! that's me learning things!


message 25: by Rachel (new)

Rachel **sees the lightbulb in Karen's head go "bing" and light up**


message 26: by karen (new)

karen it is probably too late, but i did it!


message 27: by Rachel (new)

Rachel good for you!


message 28: by Jen (new)

Jen I admit being one of the dissenters ashamed of not yet getting to Coetzee or Murakami. But you forgot DFW, absorbing those footnotes would have maybe swayed the others to my side.


message 29: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Jen, where'd your pretty face go?

If you ever get to Coetzee, you must read Disgrace. It's amazing.


message 30: by David (last edited Jun 07, 2010 09:26AM) (new)

David RA has a total mancrush on Benji Harrison.

It's really adorable.

Does Young Matthew know you've thrown him over for this rifle-wielding Floridian stud?
; )


message 31: by Jen (new)

Jen It went away. I am looking to replace it with something better, like a watermelon.


RandomAnthony David wrote: "RA has a total mancrush on Benji Harrison.

It's really adorable.

Does Young Matthew know you've thrown him over for this rifle-wielding Floridian stud?
; )"


I like to think I'm the angel on Ben's shoulder to your devil on the other shoulder, David...

And young Matthew is just a goddamn genius who's recommended some flat-out great books. AND he's a decent left-handed pitcher. I hate him.:)


message 33: by David (last edited Jun 07, 2010 11:02AM) (new)

David Why do I have a feeling Benji is mortified by this thread?

And young Matthew is just a goddamn genius who's recommended some flat-out great books. AND he's a decent left-handed pitcher. I hate him.:)

He's really tall and skinny, so he's probably hung like a Clydesdale too. Another reason to despise him. That bitch.


message 34: by David (new)

David Damn. I know how to take a thread out back and put a bullet right between its eyes.

Forget that I speculated that Young Matthew might be a white shakazulu. Let's talk about the weather.


message 35: by Michelle (new)

Michelle It's hot as fuck outside.


message 37: by David (new)

David Don't you love how both RA and Benji are pretending as if they aren't reading any of this anymore? Or they're 'very busy' and away from their computers?


message 38: by Pinky (new)

Pinky I've been downloading Ben's pictures and pasting his head onto mine in facebook family albums. Is that wrong?


message 39: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! I've had to reprint Ben's poster cutout blowup several times because the lips keeps wearing away.


message 40: by David (new)

David


message 41: by Jen (new)

Jen We need to make sure that 17 year old girls are besotted with Ben- quick, post his pic on a gushy five star Twilight review- ask them if they think he's more wolf or vampire....I'm sure they'll let us know.


message 42: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Team Ben 4evah!


RandomAnthony Michelle, isn't Ben going to be in the San Francisco area next week? Take him to a mall or a Hot Topic and see how the girls react. Better yet, drive him past a Catholic all-girls high school and "accidentally" boot him out the door.

(Sorry, Ben, this is all in the name of research:)


message 44: by Michelle (new)

Michelle I accept my mission.

; )


message 45: by Kim (last edited Jun 09, 2010 10:44AM) (new) - added it

Kim Hee... I'm late to the thread as usual... I'm so the outsider in GR Heaven wearing my Team Ben tee-shirt under my cardigan, hoping he'll look my way, stubbing my toe, trying to listen in on the cool people speak. I'm peppering my sentences with wiki-like phrases such as 'Coetzee is known as reclusive and eschews publicity to such an extent that he did not collect either of his two Booker Prizes in person.' and "H. P. Lovecraft said that he wrote the short story "Arthur Jermyn" after he "had nearly fallen asleep over the tame backstairs gossip of Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio." hoping that I get a gold badge and that JLE will ask me to dinner...


message 46: by David (new)

David


message 47: by JSou (new)

JSou I'm sure people employed by cafepress are going to be puzzled by the sudden flood of orders for I ♥ Benji shirts.


message 48: by Kim (new) - added it

Kim Are you kidding? I've got the shirtless uzi pic screenprinted on a pillowcase. :)


message 49: by Caris (new)

Caris If you are a seventeen year old girl God is a combination of Ben Harrison and that guy from 500 Days of Summer.

Ben's not just for girls.


message 50: by Ben (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben Caris and DK are the only exceptions.


« previous 1
back to top