“On the seventh day, He rested. A big mistake. For idle hands are the devil's playground, but God couldn't possibly know that yet, for the world was young and so was He, comparatively speaking.” This was how Jessica Palmer began her witty collection of short story, Other Visions of Heaven and Hell.

         From the title, the setting was clear. But this wasn’t just a regular heaven and hell biblical story.  It was a subversion, a superb and subtle playing of what one took for granted to a deeper meaning.

            Somewhere she wrote: “But God only understood this later, much later, after He had the opportunity to ruminate upon some obvious design flaws. He had made quite a few. He'd already had to give up on giants as too cumbersome and large lizards as too clumsy – and not particularly bright. After those first abortive attempts at creation, God had wiped the slate clean. Except for the angels, of course. It had been the angels and not man who had been made in His image and likeness. They were immortals like Himself, and He was stuck with them as they were with Him. Sometimes He wondered if angels had been a mistake also. They were something He'd whipped up one boring afternoon – long before day one – when the sky was grey with the nothingness of void and he had wanted someone to talk to. Still, God thought He'd corrected the basic angelic faults when he upgraded to man. First, He'd eliminated a lot of the frivolities and fripperies. No flaming wheels of fire, no multiple tongues or thick covering of hair — each with a myriad of mouths and a multiplicity of eyes. No halos of radiant light that forced Him to squint. Nothing flash. No wings either. They were much too ostentatious. The daemon and angels spent hours preening them, and comparing them. (“I got sixteen-thousand and you got only four.”) That was when God had discovered the sins of vanity and pride.”

          I remembered laughing out loud on the bus reading these italicized lines but only to meet a cold gaze of the person sitting beside me, watching me as if I was a weirdo. Jessica this is your fault.

         But what was in this collection wasn’t just witty stories. It also was philosophical, deep, examining our tender nature of being, our relationship with others. It enrooted me into a rethink to my taken grantedness. Definitely, I highly recommend this book.

For a purschase: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Other-Visions-Heaven-Jessica-Palmer/dp/0993574211


Published by Ezeiyoke Peter