The afterlife and otherworldly landscapes are breeding grounds for comic antics in this short story collection.
Perper and Cornog (Mangatopia,
2011, etc.) set the framework for this group of bizarre stories with the
opening, “The Tale of Lady Ptish and the Marvelous Organ.” In it, Lady Ptish is
imprisoned by priests, who likewise slay her husband, Lord Ptu. Fortunately,
Lord Ptu’s severed phallus escapes its alabaster-jar confinement and returns to
Lady Ptish, battling priests and monsters along the way. There’s an
unmistakable theme running throughout this book of life beyond death, but
always with a winking eye. It may be Judgement Day, for example, in “Twilight
of the Gods,” but angels, saints, and gods of all creeds don’t leave one
another much elbow room. Likewise, in “Hereafterburn,” the late Aunt Rhoda
comes back, but that might not necessarily be a good thing, depending on which
“Other Side” she’s returning from. The collection tackles a number of sensitive
issues, from sex to religion, but never treats them cynically or derogatorily.
Jesus, for one, makes at least a couple of amusing appearances but remains an
upstanding guy each time. The authors also draw humor from supernatural beings
by zeroing in on their human qualities. “The Ghost of Sula Turog” just wants to
tell her story; aliens arriving on Earth would be divine for half-alien Elisa
Rossi in “Of Certain Paternity” because she could finally meet her father; and
in “Uncle Farkas and the Communists,” a vampire reveals that the world’s
biggest threat is likely communism. The best of the bunch, however, is “Job
Search,” in which Lucifer walks the Earth to tempt people into sinning. It’s an
uproarious tale, portraying the devil as perhaps a bit antiquated: he’s
miserable up here, unable to find a virgin and unaware of what today’s humans would
consider a sin. Most of the stories are decidedly short, but even “And to All a
Good Night,” featuring a distraught Santa Claus, manages a twist in a mere five
pages. This is a posthumous publication for Perper, and his wife/co-author,
Cornog, ends the book with some insight into each story, including recurring
themes or characters from earlier writings.
Tales that examine notions of death with
buoyancy and endless wit.