Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Afterlife Diet by Daniel Pinkwater

The only novel officially for adults by kids-book genius Pinkwater is this odd 1995 item, which is plotted and told a lot like his best YA novels -- sideways, slyly, around corners and leaving out the boring parts. It asks the eternal question: is there dieting after death? The plot begins in the afterlife, but mostly takes place on earth, explaining the events that lead up to its first sentence: "Milton Cramer, the lousy editor, woke up in a room he'd never seen before."

As a fat guy, and a long-time lover of Pinkwater's book, I loved this when I first read it -- I had a copy of the hardcover from 1995, which was lost in the flood -- and got a new one as soon as I could. And why do we re-buy books we love if not for an excuse to read them again?

The Afterlife Diet is one of those books that's hilarious on the surface, but -- in the immortal words of Fat Albert, "if you're not careful, you may learn something." The something you'll learn is about life, or yourself, or psychiatry, or the human condition -- Pinkwater is tacking the big stuff here, and doing it magnificently.

If you are currently an adult, and have never read Pinkwater (which is horribly sad, but may be true for some people), this is a good place to start, if you can find a copy. If you're a Pinkwater fan who didn't know he'd written for adults, you now have a gem to find.

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