After a life of misdemeanors, Lee had hoped that death would bring an end to things; instead, he awakens anew into a very bad place full of cold weather, strange tortures, and some of history's most hapless people. His one consolation? An opportunity to chase down his beloved wife, who preceded him in death a few years before he contrived his own.
Tito gives an overview of the book:
Come morning and dawn, Lee leapt up much refreshed and proceeded to shake the needles out of his hair. Dreams of happiness had regaled him all night even if he could not now remember what they were. Again he yawned and stretched and was in process of reciting out loud certain pieces of conversation from the more notable of those dreams when, suddenly, he recoiled in huge astonishment to find that yet another old man had bedded down next to him at some moment during the foregoing black night and now was grinning up toothlessly while waiting for Lee to continue with the recitation.
Quickly Lee gathered his possessions and, using for that purpose his yard-square kerchief of fine silk, made a hasty bundle and hung it from his stick. All his worldly goods, his cash and coins (one of them from Canada), his book of matches and his wee pen knife, all of it together added up to such inconsiderable luggage that no matter how much he looked at it from various angles he still wanted to cry. The other man, meantime, had gotten into a sitting position and was fighting valiantly to rise.
"Now you take a person like me," he said. "I consider a person like you to be lucky, what with all them things you got there. In that there little pouch, I mean. You looking for a partner?"
"No, no," said Lee, "not really, no. No, actually I…" (He had gone off to finish urinating and was striving to hurry the process.) "But thanks all the same."
"Shit, I could carry all that stuff for you, and shit, why you wouldn't have to carry nothing." And then, in a somewhat darker voice: "They won't take that Canadian penny. Nobody will."
Lee hurried. The "sun," more dead than alive, had only just that moment snapped the last thread still holding it to the horizon and, lifting a few centimeters, had finally begun to throb under its own power. Lee looked for, and found, a small clutter of dark clouds rushing up too late to forestall dawn from taking place. Always it was the same—he could see so much more clearly at this time, and farther, than by night, and what he mostly saw was a sight that any historian could envy—a walled village (the gate was open) with hens and children running in and out. Bending nearer, he could also see an adamant cock strutting dictatorially atop the gable of one of the more prosperous-looking cottages.
I grew up in the Alabama of the 1950's and opted to write novels as a result of my acquaintance with William Faulkner and Thomas Wolf. My first novel, Lee, was published in 1991 and received very heterogenous reviews. Utilizing formal language, I write from a cultural point...