I finished James Hall’s Buzz Cut last night. Not his finest by a long shot, but I did happen onto something he said about the Tibetan Book of the Dead: “The soul when set loose from the body begins to roam the dark plains of afterlife searching for some speck of light. Finally seeing it, moving toward it, then entering it as the sperm enters the vagina and battles its way up the hostile twists of tube to reach the great mother egg. A dead man wanders until he sees his new parents, then reenters the world through their moment of great pleasure. Becoming a child again, a disembodied scream. All of it starting over and over and over.” I think that’s pretty much what I’ve believed all my life, but never said it so well.
I’m in the middle of the last Mathew Scudder book (for the second time), All the Flowers Are Dying. I really love this series. Scudder is such a unique character. He’s the only continuing character in mystery fiction who has aged in real time. Other series feature main characters who never seem to age. Spenser has been around for at least thirty years, yet he’s now only in his mid-forties. Travis McGee aged a bit from first to last, but not more than fifteen years despite the thirty-five years the series spans. I guess there are probably others who stuck with real time. Maybe Connelly’s Harry Bosch. But then, consider the 87th Precinct boys. Carella and company first made their appearance in the late Fifties. That’s half a century ago, and he and the others have aged only about fifteen years. Ed McBain (aka Evan Hunter) has made a mint off the 87th, but it still feels a bit unrealistic when you read the whole series that the reader and the rest of the world age not nearly as gracefully as the characters in the 87th Precinct.