by John Kleinbaum
I don’t usually read fantasy novels but was drawn to the cover of Reincarnation Blues by the neon art and by my own perennial interest in coming back again as something different. I have also suspected that there might be some blues involved.
A few pages in and I was hooked by the challenges faced by the protagonist, Milo, as he negotiates many of his 10,000 reincarnations. After several hundred of these livings and dyings he falls in love with Death, whose name it turns out is Suzie. Milo runs into her at the end of each life and their romance informs the tale. The book is hard to categorize as fantasy, really more an imaginative fiction vehicle for a wander through genres: it’s historical (some of his lives are in the past) sci-fi (some are in the future) nature (some lives are other species) and sociological (a variety of cultures). Philosophically the book bridges Buddhism and Existentialism in the meaning of an ultimate death.
The author creates a magical reality throughout that is at times funny, at times sad, and at times outrageous then thought provoking and generally left me with an appreciation for his inventiveness and sympathy for his underachiever hero who’s on an unavoidable quest. Overall I found it whimsical, entertaining, Zen infused and a good read. Michael Poore is a new author for me but I will be looking for more.
John Kleinbaum is a Library Associate at the Willoughby Library.