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Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives Paperback – 24 Apr 2009
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"Witty, bright, sharp and unexpected . . . as surprising a book as I've read for years. Every story is a new Heaven." (Brian Eno)
"A very well-written, very funny and very thought-provoking book that makes you realize that when it comes to the afterlife, most religions suffer from an acute shortage of imagination. Sum immediately made me think of several more alternative afterlives" (Yuval Noah Harari)
"SUM is terrific. It's such a good idea that I was grinding my teeth all the way through wishing I'd thought of it first. The inventiveness, the clarity and wit of the prose, the calm air of moral understanding that pervades the whole thing, add up to something completely original. I hope Sum will be the great big hit it deserves to be." (Philip Pullman)
"Brilliantly realised, blazingly original, Sum isn't so much about the next life as this one. Eagleman's stories - parables? - a chilly reminder of our foibles and delusions." (Colin Waters Sunday Herald 2009-05-03)
"40 intriguing tales describing different heavenly scenarios ... and all formidably imagined ... Readers may discover much to appreciate - not least the lives they are living now, still so much better than some nightmares in these pages ... quirky, occasionally unsettling ... never short of new new ideas, all of them rolled out with style." (Nicholas Tucker Independent 2009-05-11)
"This delightful, thought-provoking little collection belongs to that category of strange, unclassifiable books that will haunt the reader long after the last page has been turned. It is full of tangential insights into the human condition and poetic thought experiments ... full of touching moments and glorious wit of the sort one only hopes will be incopious supply on the other side." (The New York Times)
"This stunningly original book is little more than 100 pages long. You can get through it in an hour, but you'd be mad to hurry, and you will certainly want to return to it many times ... Sum has the unaccountable, jaw-dropping quality of genius. It seems exquisitely adapted to fill the contemporary longing for a kind of secular holy book." (Geoff Dyer Observer 2009-06-07)
"It does what it says in the title - satirical, playful, troubling, inventive, thought provoking and often funny takes on possible afterlives. A complete one off. I've been buying it and giving to friends and family. Everyone is delighted. Keep by the bed and feed yourself one or two before turning out the light." (Andrew Greig Sunday Herald 2009-11-29)
"SUM is an imaginative and provocative book that gives new perspectives on how to view ourselves and our place in the world." (Alan Lightman, author of EINSTEIN'S DREAM)
"I suppose there could be people who dislike Canongate's latest find ... those, dare one say it, without poetry in their souls. For the rest - the millions who even in a post-religious, secular society find themselves at unexpected moments wondering who or what God is, if he's not a little old man sitting on a cloud." (Mary Crockett Scotsman 2009-05-09)
Sum is terrific... The inventiveness, the clarity and wit of the prose...add up to something completely original.See all Product description
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Each story is simple, but very clever and will spin you upside down in your thinking. I don’t think there was a story I didn’t like and didn’t make me smile with enjoyment.
It may remind you a little of Jorge Louis Borges in the comparison to clever, thoughtful, short stories.
There are many reasons I enjoyed this collection. Here are just a few:
● Each tale is only a few pages long – perfect reading for lunch breaks.
● Although the concept of God appears in some tales, this is not a book centred on religion or religious beliefs.
● The collection works to evoke a range of emotions – some of the ‘Afterlives’ were pleasing constructs, others definitely not.
● The concepts of life and death are not fixed – the author is just as inventive with imagined timescales.
● The book is well written and well presented – the number of editing errors in the Kindle version I read was minimal.
● As with all collections, I liked some of the tales more than others, but each was so short I never felt ‘bogged-down’ by any one of them.
The only reason I didn’t give this the full 5 Star rating is I felt the tales were heavily weighted towards maths, science and technology, and perhaps a few ideas centred around a more arts orientated interpretation would have added an additional dimension. That said, this is a very good read, and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for something thought provoking and a little bit different.
First time I have been this engrossed in a book since the Harry Potter series, many years ago. David Eagleman's other works, though very different from this one, are also fascinating.
I had to buy this book for an assignment at uni, and at first I grudged having to buy it. Once I starting reading it, however, I completely changed my mind. This was one of my favourite assignments and it's all because of this book.
I highly recommend this book.