Where do we go when we die? Would you like to talk to someone, either a loved one or someone famous who's gone to the Great Beyond? I admit, I've wanted to say, wow, that's fabulous, Shakespeare, what were you thinking when you wrote The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew? Anyway, I have five books featuring quirky characters and a humorous tone that deal with the afterlife.
Kurt Vonnegut piles on the irreverence in God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian, where he makes round trips between the hereafter and the here and now, interviewing the famous and infamous dead. Originally conceived as 90-second spots for a radio show, these brief entries include Vonnegut's heroes like Eugene Debs and Clarence Darrow, as well as less savory types. Vonnegut's trademark humor, both humanist and caustic, is on full display here.
And now that Vonnegut himself has crossed the bar, he's probably in the The Writers Afterlife, as conceived by Richard Vetere. Tom Chillo is recently deceased, a writer who felt he never got his due on earth. In the section of the Great Beyond reserved for writers, he longs to join the Immortals (Shakespeare, Tolstoy, etc.) and enjoy their afterlifestyle. He's given a week to achieve posthumous fame. This is well-imagined and high-concept: Vetere is probably a better writer than his protagonist.
Tex and Molly are aging hippies who fall down a well and become Tex and Molly in the Afterlife in Richard Grant's delightful novel. The pair encounters various immortal beings, from dryads to the Great Devourer of All Things Manifest, as well as the mortal couple now inhabiting their houseboat. While certainly not plot-driven, there are diagrams and otherworldly advice to keep things moving in this effervescent tale.
Dirk Quigby dreams of leaving his advertising job and being a travel writer, but is pretty much in a rut when he gets a proposal from Satan: Hell is overcrowded and hard to administer; why not write about how to get into various heavens? Dirk gets to travel and write, and the Devil solves his population problem. The result is Dirk Quigby's Guide to the Afterlife (actually by E.E. King) depending on your belief system, complete with ratings for food, drink, and ease of entrance. Once again, light on plot, but good fun nonetheless.
After receiving a final letter from his deceased true love, the Fisherman heads for The Alehouse at the End of the World. Stevan Allred's story of an epic journey owes a good deal to the tales of Odysseus and Orpheus and Eurydice, and fans of mythology will find much to like. Fantastical and often naughty, this is a richly imagined story of the next world.
Have more comic stories of the world to come? Tell us in the comments.