Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lee Pefley goes to Hell

Fans of novelist Tito Perdue are intimately familiar with the eccentric protagonist of his books, Lee Pefley. In his most recent work, Fields of Asphodel, the reader sees the afterlife through Pefley's eyes. It seems Pefley must atone for his sins -- or rather, for his virtues -- and Fields of Asphodel is sort of like Dante's Inferno updated to account for Satan's modernized methods:
Just now they were running through a neighborhood of superb homes, structures of four and five stories with balconies and fountains with sculptures in them. The youngest of the men noted his amazement.
"You approve of these homes, Dr. Pefley?"
Lee admitted it. "Gosh," he said. "And just look at that one! Why, it must be the post-mortem residence of some great philosopher or composer? Melville's house, is it? Poe's?"
"Who? No, actually it's the summer place of one of the finest strong side tackles in the country. Hell of a nice guy, too."
"And that one! Moses!"
"I can see you have good taste. That one belongs to a really great man, doctor. He picked just the right time to unload half a million contracts of orange juice futures. Two lovely children, too."
"And there! Happy the man or woman who dwells in that!"
"Lottery winner."
"And yonder!"
"Rock singer."
Lee gaped at it. He had subscribed all his life to the meritocracy theory, and now he was being vouchsafed a look at one of the meritocrats himself, a fat man in an undershirt snoozing by the pool.
I've known Tito for about 15 years. He never ceases to denounce me as a "philistine," mainly due to my abhorrence of opera, and I return the compiment by calling him a "pagan," to which he never objects. To anyone who enjoys a fine novel, I heartily recommend all of Tito Perdue's books.

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