So I’m perusing the children’s section of the library this morning (stop laughing! This section has some of the best literature ever, and all without having to step around the newest biography by the presidential candidate-of-the-moment. But then I’ve gone on this rant before, so I’ll stop myself) and I stumbled upon Terry Pratchett. I’ve reviewed several Terry Pratchett books, most of them (or all of them? I’ll have to look that one up) in his Discworld series, and while he is a very clever author with oodles of talent, I can only read so many of his books without getting bored, and getting them all mixed up in my head. On the “P” shelf in the children’s alcove, however, I found a story with that same clever writing and irreplaceable humor that had nothing at all to do with that disc-shaped world carried on the back of four elephants riding on a turtle. Nope, this story took place in the here and now (well, in the here-and-now of 1993) and was about a twelve year old boy who suddenly is able to see ghosts…no, not ghosts, as the book so tactfully explained… “chronologically advanced persons” or “post-senior citizens.” I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The story dealt with some heavy stuff–life after death, heaven and hell, Judgement Day, but did so in an innocent, non-political fashion perfect for a child. (In the children’s section! Who knew?) Our young hero knocks on the door of a mausoleum one sunny afternoon only to have the door answered by the occupant. Hilarity ensues. Well, more precisely, funny-yet-compelling circumstances involving the true nature of the universe and what happens to the soul after the body dies ensue. But in a truly funny fashion. Johnny saves the day, as one might imagine, and in the process breaths life into a dying town while giving the dead permission to move on.
I love this type of stuff–alternate explanations for human mysteries make some great stories, and reading an especially well-crafted one brings me sheer joy (and some teary-eyed page turning). What’s really nice about this type of story is its ability to linger. I know I’ll be thinking about the obvious theories about the afterlife presented in this tale for a while, and while they may or may not ring true in the long hall, I do so love a story that makes me ponder.