THE FREEWAYFARERS' BOOK OF THE DEAD by John Okas

THE FREEWAYFARERS' BOOK OF THE DEAD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The playful, high-spirited second novel in Okas's Art in Heaven series (Routes, 1994) continues the mythological history of the Black family, this time tracing Sarah Black and her illegitimate offspring, Gloria--embodiments of the avant-garde zeitgeist of their day--from coast to coast in the 1930's and 40's. Here, narrated in the voice of Morning Star, as told to her by her brother Arthur King (``Art in Heaven''), we pick up Sarah Black in the City by the Bay, deep in mourning for Corn Dog, her dead lover and the father of Gloria. But fate is about to change Sarah's life once again. When an old suitor discovers that he can receive his inheritance only if he marries, he proposes to Sarah. She accepts, and the newly formed family, including nanny Laudette, settles down in NYC. But ensconced in a swank East Side mansion, Sarah still can't get past her grief and longing for Corn Dog. She first seeks solace in reading books about communing with the dead but eventually turns to black magic, locking herself in her bedroom for wild, nightly consorts with a mysterious force from the other side. Rejuvenated, Sarah uses her newfound psychic energies for various causes, political and otherwise. Meanwhile, Gloria is growing up, hanging out with Laudette's musician friends and displaying a natural talent for jazz piano. When this installment of the Black saga ends, Sarah is off on sabbatical visiting her guru--while Gloria, under the guidance of the mystical guardian Pun Qwats, is coming into her own. Okas's original, over-the-top style can overwhelm with its quirky wordplay and outlandish imagination. Yet for all the outrageous satire, the characters are entertaining in their spiritual quests and all their worldly--and otherworldly--pursuits.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-877946-60-5
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Permanent Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1995