The wife of a psychic gathers reports from everyday people who believe they’ve glimpsed the beyond.
In this second foray into paranormal territory for nonfiction author Green (Loitering at the Gate to Eternity, 2013), a universe of perplexing activity comes to light via oral histories and anecdotes. Taking its titular cue from Hamlet’s description of death as “The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn / No Traveler returns,” the collection offers a gallery of real instances in which people believe that they interacted with otherworldly forces. These encounters take a number of forms, from meetings with hard-to-discern apparitions to poignant dreams and vivid visitations from long-dead relatives. One woman, for example, says that she found herself in the presence of her mother’s spirit, holding twin infants in her arms; her mother asked her whether she wanted the babies, and she declined. During the encounter, she says, she came to the conclusion that she didn’t want children of her own. Another man—a writer, photographer, and teacher—describes psychic sensibilities not unlike those possessed by Green’s husband, whose stories of supernatural experiences first made her a believer. The man foresaw that his ailing father would die at 1:00 a.m. on a Friday; sure enough, while attending a wedding, he felt a full-body shiver and told a friend that his father had just died, which turned out to be accurate. This volume is upbeat and respectful in its presentation and looks at all manner of mysterious experiences. Some people recount confrontations with malignant spirits who they believe physically harmed them; others discuss how visions or intuitions of loved ones helped them overcome personal traumas or open up new realms of psychic energy. Green appears to be conscious that scientifically minded readers will doubt these claims, but she complements her interviewees’ memories with informative sidebars that provide more details. The main—and highly laudable—point of the volume, however, isn’t to persuade steadfast skeptics but to further the idea that these phenomena are integral to the human experience. They’re events to discuss and contemplate, the author seems to say, not to fear or dismiss.
A compassionate, intelligent survey of supernatural experiences.