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A bizarre fantasy that tries to piece together what happens to a young man after his untimely death places him in dark exile. When you die before you’re supposed to, sometimes you end up in a strange, in-between place. At least that’s where the unnamed narrator finds himself after a mysterious accident places him in the pathway of a pooch named Parley. Turns out, the Grim R A bizarre fantasy that tries to piece together what happens to a young man after his untimely death places him in dark exile. When you die before you’re supposed to, sometimes you end up in a strange, in-between place. At least that’s where the unnamed narrator finds himself after a mysterious accident places him in the pathway of a pooch named Parley. Turns out, the Grim Reaper only uses his black cape as a ruse; Parley is actually his true form. And with that knowledge, readers are quickly catapulted into the outlandish, slightly off-kilter explanation of what happens to people in this version of purgatory. They’re not meant to be there, so they’ve got to find a way to pass the time. The book’s main character—though he’s never truly named, he earns the nickname Wit because of his sense of humor—is understandably puzzled by his predicament and filled with a strong desire to go home. In his often disturbing yet oddly endearing first novel, Miller creates a kind of “Jabberwocky”-style story in which fans of strange, Seuss-ian characters—“Pillow is the goddess of Lost Sleep. Don’t let her yawn on you or you’ll be snoring for a hundred years; or until a passing virgin kisses you”—will feel right at home. Readers never get terribly comfortable with the characters Wit meets, and they’re probably not supposed to; this is the afterlife, after all. Yet the story is so whimsically told that the Through the Looking Glass frivolity starts to make a strange sort of sense. Miller’s work here might be inspired by his own son’s untimely death, and his grief is palpable. In the author’s estimation, young men, especially those in their teens, should not die; their move into maturity is reflected in Wit’s slow understanding of the alternate world he now lives in and how he copes with the oddness of everything around him. Take this small exchange: “The whale started again, ‘I came here when I was a boy, like you, but already as big as a bus. Who wants to swim in skim milk?! So the first thing I did was to try to get back by beaching myself. I didn’t even realize you can’t die here.’ ” At times, dialogue can be excessive... but for the right adventurous reader, this trek off the beaten path will yield wonderful results.


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A bizarre fantasy that tries to piece together what happens to a young man after his untimely death places him in dark exile. When you die before you’re supposed to, sometimes you end up in a strange, in-between place. At least that’s where the unnamed narrator finds himself after a mysterious accident places him in the pathway of a pooch named Parley. Turns out, the Grim R A bizarre fantasy that tries to piece together what happens to a young man after his untimely death places him in dark exile. When you die before you’re supposed to, sometimes you end up in a strange, in-between place. At least that’s where the unnamed narrator finds himself after a mysterious accident places him in the pathway of a pooch named Parley. Turns out, the Grim Reaper only uses his black cape as a ruse; Parley is actually his true form. And with that knowledge, readers are quickly catapulted into the outlandish, slightly off-kilter explanation of what happens to people in this version of purgatory. They’re not meant to be there, so they’ve got to find a way to pass the time. The book’s main character—though he’s never truly named, he earns the nickname Wit because of his sense of humor—is understandably puzzled by his predicament and filled with a strong desire to go home. In his often disturbing yet oddly endearing first novel, Miller creates a kind of “Jabberwocky”-style story in which fans of strange, Seuss-ian characters—“Pillow is the goddess of Lost Sleep. Don’t let her yawn on you or you’ll be snoring for a hundred years; or until a passing virgin kisses you”—will feel right at home. Readers never get terribly comfortable with the characters Wit meets, and they’re probably not supposed to; this is the afterlife, after all. Yet the story is so whimsically told that the Through the Looking Glass frivolity starts to make a strange sort of sense. Miller’s work here might be inspired by his own son’s untimely death, and his grief is palpable. In the author’s estimation, young men, especially those in their teens, should not die; their move into maturity is reflected in Wit’s slow understanding of the alternate world he now lives in and how he copes with the oddness of everything around him. Take this small exchange: “The whale started again, ‘I came here when I was a boy, like you, but already as big as a bus. Who wants to swim in skim milk?! So the first thing I did was to try to get back by beaching myself. I didn’t even realize you can’t die here.’ ” At times, dialogue can be excessive... but for the right adventurous reader, this trek off the beaten path will yield wonderful results.

41 review for Parley After Life - DIY Guide to Death and other Taxes

  1. 5 out of 5

    Wang Li

    "An unusual picaresque fantasy that is at times sweetly amusing and at other times deeply disturbing. This book seemed to me like The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy meets Dante. If that combo makes you faintly queasy, well, don’t say I didn’t tell you. "Because he died before his time, the teen protagonist of this wildly imaginative fantasy/sci-fi novel ends up in the special part of the afterlife reserved for lost things. He is meant to wait there until his proper time to die. Wit, as he is cal "An unusual picaresque fantasy that is at times sweetly amusing and at other times deeply disturbing. This book seemed to me like The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy meets Dante. If that combo makes you faintly queasy, well, don’t say I didn’t tell you. "Because he died before his time, the teen protagonist of this wildly imaginative fantasy/sci-fi novel ends up in the special part of the afterlife reserved for lost things. He is meant to wait there until his proper time to die. Wit, as he is called in the afterlife, finds himself sharing this peculiar sort of purgatory with all manner of lost things—not just children. Buttons, socks, religion (“people are losing their religion all the time, right?”) and more turn up there as well. Wit, however, is unwilling to accept that he is dead and immediately sets about trying to find a way back to his life. His adventures along the way make for an unusual picaresque fantasy that is at times sweetly amusing and at other times deeply disturbing. This book seemed to me like The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy meets Dante. If that combo makes you faintly queasy, well, don’t say I didn’t tell you. As you might expect from Wit’s name, the book is filled with puns and wordplay, and twisty little jokes that veer from groaningly obvious to bits that I almost missed, sometimes getting the pun or punch line a half step behind the beat. These aren’t just one-off jokes; the wordplay is often extended, setting up an entire section or theme. Here is an example, not nearly the most clever, but one that is relatively easy to excerpt: "Term-Mights on the other hand wouldn’t bite you if you were not wood.” “Um, it’s termites,” corrected Wit. “Not in a democracy,” re-corrected Thera. “They are the power behind the throne balanced around you but they are only here for a term; they might or might not achieve anything in that time depending on the poles.” “You mean polls?” Wit asked hesitantly. “No, the Beast Pole or the Waste Pole. You’ve come in through the Waste because the Fun rises in the Beast. To put it another way, people are losing power all the time, it turns them into beasts; others are wasting power all the time, lights left on in closed rooms must illuminate something. So, like either end of a magnet, both powers parley here and it energises the Term-Mights to produce something that either power alone couldn’t achieve by itself: Cooperation." On no account should the reader let all this punning and silliness lull him or her into the sense that this is a lighthearted story. Miller keeps you off-footed by mixing a sort of childlike storytelling—including many references to fairy tales and nursery rhymes—with extremely adult themes, not limited to premature death. Many of the characters speak with an openness and innocence that would not seem out of place in The Hundred Acre Wood. Yet after establishing an almost nursery-rhyme cadence and silliness, Miller drops in deep observations about war, child abuse, inequality, and a great deal of social, political, historical, and economic commentary. But the heart of the book is an exploration of the contours of grief, particularly grief over the deaths of children. As the author puns in an afterword, Death And Other Taxes is a “grave allegory.” This e-book includes frequent links to websites that explain or elaborate on scientific points that come up in the book. For example, you can pop over directly from the text to a website about termites to find out the facts behind the Term-Mights. In one place, readers are directed to a Wikipedia site giving statistics on teen pregnancy, in another, to an academic paper on the biology of eunuchs. The story is wildly fantastical, yet these links provide frequent reminders of the real, hard-core world of modern science, as if to reassure the reader that stories of an afterlife are only imaginative means of coping with grief, lest the reader mistake them for some kind of reality. Joan Didion wrote that “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” Miller is telling himself, and us, stories to help us deal with death. As Wit eventually comes to accept and understand his death, the reader comes to accept the deaths of us all." Self-Publishing Review by Avery Hurt: a full-time freelance writer who specializes in health and science journalism and science and literature -

  2. 5 out of 5

    Marie Herman

    Overview: Death and Other Taxes is a Sci-Fi novel that brings an interesting twist on reality. It follows a boy who has died, but 'too early,' and so in turn must wait it out before he returns to the files. Because his parents didn't 'lose' his name, and because his 'wits' were in tact, this boy is then nicknamed Wit. Wit then goes on a journey of a lifetime, trying to win back the life that he believes is rightfully his. He meets a vast array of other 'people'(Talking horses, birds, and, yes, ev Overview: Death and Other Taxes is a Sci-Fi novel that brings an interesting twist on reality. It follows a boy who has died, but 'too early,' and so in turn must wait it out before he returns to the files. Because his parents didn't 'lose' his name, and because his 'wits' were in tact, this boy is then nicknamed Wit. Wit then goes on a journey of a lifetime, trying to win back the life that he believes is rightfully his. He meets a vast array of other 'people'(Talking horses, birds, and, yes, even socks,) some good, some, not so much, on the quest of his, erm, life. Review: This book was interesting in a very eccentric way. It kept me guessing as to where Wit would go next, and in no way was an easily foreshadowed book. I loved the overall concept of the book, it wasn't your basic concept of life and death, it had an interesting twist on time, as well as an interesting twist on life itself. The ending was good, even though I felt as if something was missing, which can just be in regards to the fact of the author's excellent story world building. Although there was a wide array of reasons why I loved this book, I do believe that I should state a couple of the things that the author should look out for in the future, for this author definitely has legit potential. One, in the beginning of the book, I was often confused as a reader. It's not necessarily that the author didn't explain enough, it's just that the author almost had a hard time finding the correct words to explain each scenario. After each bubble of confusion, there was later an 'ah-ha' moment that was a redeeming quality, but not enough to totally overlook this part. Two, Although it wasn't heavy on the grammar problems/typos, I was still able to understand what each sentence meant, there were some grammar problems that could have been fleshed out with a couple more rounds of editing, or, even, hiring another editor to sweep away the last bread crumbs of it all. Okay, now that I got the dirty work done, I want to focus on a couple more good qualities of this book. I really enjoyed reading into the characters, and, being the cat person that I am, my favorite was Pillow(guilty as charged,) which wasn't really a main main character, but I felt the full impact of how well constructed the character was. The general idea of a cat having nine lives, and since they don't destroy all nine lives in one huge explosion, part of them waits as the rest of them dies off, is truly brilliant. The whole idea of the bringer of death was a surprising twist that I don't want to spoil, and, even though I tend to gravitate towards the supporting characters instead of the MC, I'd have to say I still enjoyed the character of Wit, all due to the fact that Miller didn't neglect making his MC interesting in order to make all the other characters interesting in return. Kudos to him. Rate: Overall, I rate this story as a whole a 4.5 out of 5, rounding down to a 4, all in part because the introduction of the entire book was a little choppy, but, once I got into the flow of the book, I enjoyed it. This book is recommended to lovers of sci-fy of all ages, although for your average reader, I'd recommend it towards the 12-20 bracket, for the content could be immature at times(the bird went on someone on several different occasions!), but had a mature theme to it, so shouldn't be read by anyone younger than twelve.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Li Wang

    "A bizarre fantasy that tries to piece together what happens to a young man after his untimely death places him in dark exile. When you die before you’re supposed to, sometimes you end up in a strange, in-between place. At least that’s where the unnamed narrator finds himself after a mysterious accident places him in the pathway of a pooch named Parley. Turns out, the Grim Reaper only uses his black cape as a ruse; Parley is actually his true form. And with that knowledge, readers are quickly cat "A bizarre fantasy that tries to piece together what happens to a young man after his untimely death places him in dark exile. When you die before you’re supposed to, sometimes you end up in a strange, in-between place. At least that’s where the unnamed narrator finds himself after a mysterious accident places him in the pathway of a pooch named Parley. Turns out, the Grim Reaper only uses his black cape as a ruse; Parley is actually his true form. And with that knowledge, readers are quickly catapulted into the outlandish, slightly off-kilter explanation of what happens to people in this version of purgatory. They’re not meant to be there, so they’ve got to find a way to pass the time. The book’s main character—though he’s never truly named, he earns the nickname Wit because of his sense of humor—is understandably puzzled by his predicament and filled with a strong desire to go home. In his often disturbing yet oddly endearing first novel, Miller creates a kind of “Jabberwocky”-style story in which fans of strange, Seuss-ian characters—“Pillow is the goddess of Lost Sleep. Don’t let her yawn on you or you’ll be snoring for a hundred years; or until a passing virgin kisses you”—will feel right at home. Readers never get terribly comfortable with the characters Wit meets, and they’re probably not supposed to; this is the afterlife, after all. Yet the story is so whimsically told that the Through the Looking Glass frivolity starts to make a strange sort of sense. Miller’s work here might be inspired by his own son’s untimely death, and his grief is palpable. In the author’s estimation, young men, especially those in their teens, should not die; their move into maturity is reflected in Wit’s slow understanding of the alternate world he now lives in and how he copes with the oddness of everything around him. Take this small exchange: “The whale started again, ‘I came here when I was a boy, like you, but already as big as a bus. Who wants to swim in skim milk?! So the first thing I did was to try to get back by beaching myself. I didn’t even realize you can’t die here.’ ” At times, dialogue can be excessive... but for the right adventurous reader, this trek off the beaten path will yield wonderful results. An odd, imaginative story filled with sweet sadness, glowing with... vivid appeal." Ref. Kirkus Reviews

  4. 5 out of 5

    Billy Brown

    This book is insane. Brilliant but insane. At first I thought it was kind of miserable, then I thought maybe it's insensitive but then I thought this guy is going through hell and writing about what he's feeling on the way through. So I'm not sure if going through hell makes you insane or you have to be insane to think you can get through hell and back but it started to make sense towards the end so I guess it either made me crazy too or the insanity was actually woven together into a pattern ab This book is insane. Brilliant but insane. At first I thought it was kind of miserable, then I thought maybe it's insensitive but then I thought this guy is going through hell and writing about what he's feeling on the way through. So I'm not sure if going through hell makes you insane or you have to be insane to think you can get through hell and back but it started to make sense towards the end so I guess it either made me crazy too or the insanity was actually woven together into a pattern about death that I hadn't seen before and could only see once I stepped back a bit from the woven threads. So I guess I'd recommend it to anyone going through hell.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Crommich

    At its heart, this book is about Wit’s, a young boy, journey through the land of death after his untimely demise. It’s an interesting premise to launch an examination of death from, especially in that it focuses on the dead, rather than the living, but severe problems with the pacing, coherency, and writing render the book unfathomable, rather than intriguing. Before I start running through what didn’t work, I do want to make it clear that I am personally not a big fan of allegories, and I consid At its heart, this book is about Wit’s, a young boy, journey through the land of death after his untimely demise. It’s an interesting premise to launch an examination of death from, especially in that it focuses on the dead, rather than the living, but severe problems with the pacing, coherency, and writing render the book unfathomable, rather than intriguing. Before I start running through what didn’t work, I do want to make it clear that I am personally not a big fan of allegories, and I consider books like Pilgrim’s Progress to be an exquisite form of torture conjured up by high school teachers to punish students for daring to enjoy the written word. I have a special place in my heart for Chaucer, but even then just particular stories. First, the pace of the book is that of an abstract meander. There’s no sense of urgency to drive the plot forward. Wit’s primary goal is to live again, but he essentially has all of the time in the world to do it. On top of that, he spends most of the book confused and learning life lessons. There are long dialogues about why people act the way they do, about the balance of power in the world, about poverty. Each one of these is an issue worthy of examination, but they’re presented back to back with very little to break them up. There are periodic bursts of forced adventure, but it always rings hollow simply because what danger exists is of the generally vague, trippy sort that never quite clicked with me as legitimately threatening. In short, the book itself is a vehicle for a series of allegorical stories connected by Wit’s curiosity and the various ways he tries to make it back to the world of the living. This in itself isn’t a problem, but the stories themselves are so indecipherably dense that it took a force of will for me to turn from one page to the next. Also, the material connecting them was so bizarre that I really couldn’t latch onto anything to orient myself. Coherency is a big problem in this book. It demands a level of attention from the reader that’s usually reserved for discussing the vagaries German administrative agencies and the obscene alphabet soup they generate. Most of the time, I simply couldn’t read through even one paragraph quickly. I had to stop, frown, and puzzle my way through. That’s not to say that it’s a bad thing, in moderation, but almost every paragraph was its own logic problem to be worked out, and over the course of a book, that’s an extreme amount of work to subject a casual or even focused reader to. I never felt like the author didn’t know what he was talking about, but I often got the sense that he didn’t particularly care if I followed him. The best analogy I can offer is that I felt like a ten year old having string theory explained to him in terms of mathematical proofs. The author tried to cover too much ground in too small a space and without enough explanation, and as a result it made parts of the book almost unreadable for me. Again, this is also a type of book that I am already not the fondest of, but even so, this book was a particularly difficult example of the genre for me to process and enjoy. I didn’t feel like I had a reasonable grasp of what was really being discussed until the last chapter, and as a reader I simply couldn’t bring myself to do the work needed to follow the author’s train of thought from start to finish. The writing style compounds this problem. The author relies on puns, word play, and alliteration to the point that I was walking on the walls. None of these things are bad when used in moderation, but the torrent of them in this book vastly exceeded the amount I could comfortably enjoy. The way the author puts together the basic sentences seems intentionally designed to go over the reader’s head, even without the issues mentioned above, and he seems perfectly willing to adopt his own language and force the reader to either learn it or remain perpetually befuddled. An example: “‘Well these mushrooms are growing all over the show,’” said Wit with superfluous eloquence. ‘Maybe they all weep if you poke ‘em?’ And he walked to the next to indulge his elegantly satisfying theory of elephants and fish for tea.” This is the sort of book that the path to enlightenment in a land of oatmeal would be called the Whey, with those upon it carrying the Wait of their sins, while trying to avoid falling Weigh Down into the Wrong-Way Sea. Add to this a few instances of missing quotation marks, periods, commas, and the like, and reading the book was a vexing exercise that left me feeling drained after a handful of pages. All of this is tragic, because there are a lot of interesting, valid messages in this book, and the framework itself is one that could work quite well. And towards the end, I was able to see the book the author meant it to be. Even then, it never got there, but the last segment started to present things in a way that were more readily grasped. Ultimately, this book tried to do something very interesting, and the surreal world the author tries to present could have been truly fascinating. Poor pacing, a tendency to jump onto any opportunity to confound the reader, and excessive word play rendered large swathes of the book almost unreadable and incredibly frustrating. I give it a 1/5.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Robby Miller

    Parley After Life - DIY Guide to Death and other Taxes is an allegory about letting go of the compulsion to want to see our lost loved ones again. It is an answer to everyone who tried but failed to comfort me by saying my son, Tim, was still there somewhere. It is also an example of how to manage our unintelligible grief using the psychological trick of rewriting it into a work of pure imagination. There is nothing more rewarding than raising kids - it's what we're made for. The pain we feel wh Parley After Life - DIY Guide to Death and other Taxes is an allegory about letting go of the compulsion to want to see our lost loved ones again. It is an answer to everyone who tried but failed to comfort me by saying my son, Tim, was still there somewhere. It is also an example of how to manage our unintelligible grief using the psychological trick of rewriting it into a work of pure imagination. There is nothing more rewarding than raising kids - it's what we're made for. The pain we feel when a child dies is life-long and there is no panacea except the stories we tell ourselves. We are all story-tellers; novelists and religious writers alike are just professional day-dreamers. However, the key to coping with crisis is holding on what's fact and remembering what's fiction.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julia B.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Linda Kroshewsky

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nela Sepúlveda

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ikrâme Ouamalich

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jerick Gomez

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maxine Bondime

  13. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  14. 4 out of 5

    OTIS

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nightocelot

  16. 4 out of 5

    Theanticharles007

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Pritchard

  18. 5 out of 5

    Book Reader

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

  20. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ereadertje

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bakunin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Annette

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eli

  25. 5 out of 5

    Josiejo

  26. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin Etler

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aschalew Fikre

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Red

  30. 4 out of 5

    Fenia

  31. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Sanders

  32. 5 out of 5

    the prince

  33. 4 out of 5

    Laure Reminick

  34. 5 out of 5

    Snootyowl

  35. 5 out of 5

    Julia Legian

  36. 5 out of 5

    Monica

  37. 5 out of 5

    Eric Magsino

  38. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Lane

  39. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Perez

  40. 4 out of 5

    Roger - president of NBR United -

  41. 4 out of 5

    Darlene Gay-Allen

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