Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

David Eagleman

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

In the afterlife you may find that God is the size of a microbe and unaware of your existence. Or you may find the afterlife contains only those people whom you remember. In some afterlives you are split into all your different ages, in some you are recreated based on your credit card records, and in others you are forced to live with annoying versions of yourself that represent what you could have been. In these inventive tales, Eagleman kicks over the chessboard of traditional notions and offers us a dazzling lens through which to see ourselves here and now. His stories are rooted in science and romance and awe at our mysterious existence: a mixture of hope, love and death that cuts through human nature at innovative angles. 4.0 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction, Short Stories
Format Paperback
Pages 128
RRP £9.99
Date of Publication April 2009
ISBN 978-1847674272
Publisher Canongate
 

In the afterlife you may find that God is the size of a microbe and unaware of your existence. Or you may find the afterlife contains only those people whom you remember. In some afterlives you are split into all your different ages, in some you are recreated based on your credit card records, and in others you are forced to live with annoying versions of yourself that represent what you could have been. In these inventive tales, Eagleman kicks over the chessboard of traditional notions and offers us a dazzling lens through which to see ourselves here and now. His stories are rooted in science and romance and awe at our mysterious existence: a mixture of hope, love and death that cuts through human nature at innovative angles.

Reviews

The Observer

Geoff Dyer

Reading John Updike you may feel utterly incapable of coming up with such wonderful stuff yourself but, by a process of envious extrapolation, you still have a sense of how he managed to do it. Eagleman is a neuroscientist, that must have helped, but Sum has the unaccountable, jaw-dropping quality of genius.

07/06/2009

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The Scotsman

Mary Crockett

You'd think you could get through them in an evening. But behind the wit and the playfulness there are profound questions about what it is to be human and, yes, about the nature of God, and you find yourself spending time pondering that. David Eagleman is a neuroscientist from Texas who proves in this little collection that you don't need to write a novel to deal in big ideas. Nor do you have to be a poet to make poetry out of the myriad complexities of life.

09/05/2009

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The Guardian

Nicholas Lezard

Sum is perhaps best not read straight through; the experience of reading more than three stories on the trot can be a little disorienting. Savour them individually... I have not had the book around me for long enough to be able to tell how resonant and haunting it will be; but anything that tells us, convincingly, that this really may be the best of all possible worlds has something big going for it.

13/06/2009

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The Independent

Nicholas Tucker

None [of the tales] is over three pages long and all are formidably imagined. Fundamentalists will find nothing to recognise here, but other readers may discover much to appreciate – not least the lives they are living now, still so much better than some nightmares in these pages... [A] quirky, occasionally unsettling book

11/05/2009

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The Los Angeles Times

Susan Salter-Reynolds

..."There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time."... This little book is teeming, writhing with imagination. It's the Duomo between covers, reinvented and distilled.

01/02/2009

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The Daily Telegraph

Robert Hanks

Sum invites comparison with two great books ... Michael Frayn’s satire Sweet Dreams, a bourgeois liberal vision of heaven, and Italo Calvino’s fantastical gazetteer, Invisible Cities. For a while I thought Sum might live up to the comparison. But well before the end it becomes clear that Eagleman’s imagination isn’t up to the job. The prose clunks, and promising set-ups are ruined by a streak of glibness, a weakness for trite punchlines... Sum is a clever book, but not nearly enough.

27/05/2009

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