After Life (Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Rediscoveries)

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9781612182988: After Life (Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Rediscoveries)

Naomi Ash was born in New Orleans and raised by her mother, Patsy, a medium who schooled her young daughter in the parlor-trick chicanery of the trade. From Naomi recreating presences with table cloths to providing the voice of the dead by talking through a fan, their act is part theater, part magic, and a little too much playing with the letter of the law. Eventually they must beat a hasty—and forced—retreat from New Orleans, relocating to Train Line, New York.

A sleepy village founded and inhabited by others with a spiritualist bent, Train Line is populated with card readers, table levitators, and crystal-shop owners. Low-rent “Psychic Faires” are held at the local Holiday Inn, and Patsy’s newest creation, “The Mother Galina Psychic Hour,” is on the local radio station. The town is a curious mix between old school “table rappers” and the New Age, and it is here that Naomi comes of age, learns the trade, and falls in love. But love is not only a many splendored thing—it can be dangerous as well. And for a young woman caught between fraud and truth, between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and between the secrets and lies of her youth, the past and present will come together in a rush of truth and consequence.

Hailed as “a study of eccentricities, which rises above the merely quirky to address those issues of life, death, memory, and love that preoccupy us all,” After Life is a stunning first novel of extraordinary suspense and evocative imagery.

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Review:

After Life begins with Naomi Ash dragging her boyfriend's dead body down the stairs. Unpleasant, surely, but not, in a culture as numb to violence as ours, especially shocking. The nasty surprise is that we feel every ounce of skinny Peter Morton's weight, that we worry along with Naomi whether the hole she digs to bury him is big enough: "Once when I was a child I tried burying a dead cat in a hole not big enough for it, and I still cannot forget pushing down on it to make it fit, pressing its head with my trowel. Its ears filled horribly with dirt." That last detail is our signal that we have entered a world every bit as visceral as our own, and possibly every bit as mad. Despite the corpse that lies hidden for the first part of the book, After Life is not a whodunit, not even a "whydunit," but some other beast entirely: a tense exploration of the ties between faith, will, and fakery--and between this world and the next.

For Naomi Ash is a medium, and the daughter of a medium, who lives in a town founded and populated entirely by other mediums. From the beginning, she's been privy to all the tricks of her trade. Growing up in New Orleans, she helped her spiritualist mother by faking spirit voices through fans and, in one case, draping herself in a lace tablecloth as the ghost of a dead child. But what begins in fraud, she tells us, has ended "in something at least close to truthfulness":

I, for one, couldn't always disentangle the real from the fraudulent, the truth from its trappings. Sometimes it seemed as if my mother's fakery was just a more interesting and beautiful version of what was real. Sometimes it seemed that the truth needed the lies, as if there wouldn't be any truth without them. At any rate, whatever my mother was doing, it was a rare and powerful thing, perhaps even a form of magic. It enthralled me.
After their move to Train Line, New York, a fairy tale Victorian village run slightly to seed, Naomi and her mother settle into working Psychic Faires and message services. Then Naomi meets Peter Morton, a graduate student on vacation, and falls in love; 10 years later, she's still paying the price.

First-time novelist Ellis produces lovely prose: "A lonely life is a crime without witnesses, it is a movie playing in a locked theater; can you ever really be sure what happens in it? Can you be sure that it happens at all?" At the same time, this author's writing can be willfully unglamorous: her characters have dirty hair and clothes with stains on them, and their world smells like ours, like fried things and wet earth and dirty lake water. In its mix of the mundane and the magical, After Life gets at some fundamental truths about the dead and those they leave behind. You don't have to believe in the spirit world to understand Naomi's final insight as a medium--or to know just how much it hurts: "He would never be completely gone, but he would never, ever be with me." --Greta Kline

About the Author:

Rhian Ellis grew up in Western New York State. She went to Oberlin College and the University of Montana, and she now lives in Ithaca, New York, with her husband, the writer J. Robert Lennon, their two sons, and many chickens.

Nancy Pearl is a librarian and lifelong reader. She regularly comments on books on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. Her books include 2003’s Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment and Reason, 2005’s More Book Lust: 1,000 New Reading Recommendations for Every Mood, Moment and Reason; Book Crush: For Kids and Teens: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Interest, published in 2007, and 2010’s Book Lust To Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers. Among her many awards and honors are the 2011 Librarian of the Year Award from Library Journal; the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association; the 2010 Margaret E. Monroe Award from the Reference and Users Services Association of the American Library Association; and the 2004 Women's National Book Association Award, given to "a living American woman who ...has done meritorious work in the world of books beyond the duties or responsibilities of her profession or occupation."

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Book Description Amazon Publishing, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Naomi Ash was born in New Orleans and raised by her mother, Patsy, a medium who schooled her young daughter in the parlor-trick chicanery of the trade. From Naomi recreating presences with table cloths to providing the voice of the dead by talking through a fan, their act is part theater, part magic, and a little too much playing with the letter of the law. Eventually they must beat a hasty--and forced--retreat from New Orleans, relocating to Train Line, New York. A sleepy village founded and inhabited by others with a spiritualist bent, Train Line is populated with card readers, table levitators, and crystal-shop owners. Low-rent Psychic Faires are held at the local Holiday Inn, and Patsy s newest creation, The Mother Galina Psychic Hour, is on the local radio station. The town is a curious mix between old school table rappers and the New Age, and it is here that Naomi comes of age, learns the trade, and falls in love. But love is not only a many splendored thing--it can be dangerous as well. And for a young woman caught between fraud and truth, between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and between the secrets and lies of her youth, the past and present will come together in a rush of truth and consequence. Hailed as a study of eccentricities, which rises above the merely quirky to address those issues of life, death, memory, and love that preoccupy us all, After Life is a stunning first novel of extraordinary suspense and evocative imagery. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9781612182988

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Book Description Amazon Publishing, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Naomi Ash was born in New Orleans and raised by her mother, Patsy, a medium who schooled her young daughter in the parlor-trick chicanery of the trade. From Naomi recreating presences with table cloths to providing the voice of the dead by talking through a fan, their act is part theater, part magic, and a little too much playing with the letter of the law. Eventually they must beat a hasty--and forced--retreat from New Orleans, relocating to Train Line, New York. A sleepy village founded and inhabited by others with a spiritualist bent, Train Line is populated with card readers, table levitators, and crystal-shop owners. Low-rent Psychic Faires are held at the local Holiday Inn, and Patsy s newest creation, The Mother Galina Psychic Hour, is on the local radio station. The town is a curious mix between old school table rappers and the New Age, and it is here that Naomi comes of age, learns the trade, and falls in love. But love is not only a many splendored thing--it can be dangerous as well. And for a young woman caught between fraud and truth, between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and between the secrets and lies of her youth, the past and present will come together in a rush of truth and consequence. Hailed as a study of eccentricities, which rises above the merely quirky to address those issues of life, death, memory, and love that preoccupy us all, After Life is a stunning first novel of extraordinary suspense and evocative imagery. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9781612182988

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Book Description AmazonEncore. Book Condition: New. Series: Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries. Num Pages: 310 pages. BIC Classification: FF. Dimension: 209 x 141 x 22. Weight in Grams: 364. . 2012. Reprint. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9781612182988

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