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Book Review: Afterlife by Guy Smith

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The question of what happens after death has many different answers, according to who you ask. Guy Smith gives his take on what happens after death in his novella Afterlife, a funny yet dark spin on ghosts and heaven.

In Smith’s interpretation, souls (also known as ghosts) have three options: going into "the Light"/heaven; staying among the living a la Purgatory; or reincarnation by the overtaking of another person's soul.

In just over 100 pages, Smith gives plenty of opinions about life and death, as well as the space in between. His take? When you die, you immediately go to "the Light," or you stick around and address your unfinished business.

The plot of Afterlife revolves around a man who dies in a horrific car accident (his wife, who was with him, survives). Because the book is written in the first person from the protagonist’s viewpoint, readers are exposed to all the wonders and limitations being dead has to offer, both physical and spiritual.

While the protagonist struggles with what path to choose in his afterlife, his alternatives, and all the angst involved with each possible decision, Smith bestows many gems of the ghostly world. Among them: ghosts are always screwing with the living; ghosts' can't cry; and ghosts like to mess with computers.

The most important lessons Smith bestows? Death's first lesson is that waiting is always a mistake; and that when alive, we make grand plans for futures that never materialize. (As is typical in these types of stories, there is an element of hindsight where the protagonist realizes he should not have put off doing important things in his life because now he will never get that chance.)

Smith himself has a reputation as being a political provocateur, writer and songwriter, cowboy, surfer, computer guru, and marketing strategist. He is known as a freethinker and libertarian agitator, committed to expanding all freedoms and dressing down politicians in the process. Which explains why his take on the afterlife is tainted with sarcasm and full of unique ideas about ghosts, reincarnation, and spiritual limbo.

All of this is not to say that Smith handles the subject of death with jokes and sarcasm. His protagonist exhibits depth as he struggles with feelings of love and devotion for his wife, as well as his need to watch over her and protect her even when he's no longer physically present.

One of the things I like about Smith’s take on the afterlife is that there is a choice involved, it's not something predetermined or forced upon the characters. Smith offers a take on (after)life that will hit home with atheists, Christians, and just about everyone else with an opinion about what happens when we die.

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