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

Sum by David Eagleman
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's review
Feb 09, 2011

really liked it

Almost all of these brief stories - if they can be called that, lacking, really, plot or characters or any substance beyond the bare concept - possess a really brilliant, original premise. They are possible afterlives, sometimes visions of a possible god, and they explore the ramifications of each possibility. As thoughts, as ideas, these tales are remarkable, and as an intellectual pursuit, the book delivers. As I mentioned, these are not really stories, though. This book is a collection of premises, ideas that could be expanded into stories. It reminds me of a Zen text, full of little snippets of wisdom, insight, and speculation, designed to induce thinking, to lead us to ponder transcendence. It lacks narrative, though, and I couldn't help but wish that each of these stories had possessed the same umph that one finds in Calvino or Borges, where the thinking leads us to something strikingly human. Because this is a study of the human condition and, as good as it is, sometimes it lacks the literariness to completely sell the points the author is making. Excellent ideas adequately if not deftly presented. Definitely recommended reading, if only to kickstart your brain into some deep thinking.

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