To die will be an awfully big adventure. – Aristotle
Imagine, if you will, standing upon the banks of a lazy river, its surface a cool and contemplative deception that masks the roiling current tumbling below. You wade into its deceptive stillness, unaware of and unprepared for what lies beneath, an unknown variable that, in its depth and power, sweeps you off your feet and carries you to the beyond, a traveler on its every whim, helpless to do anything more than succumb to it, leaving you at the mercy of its will.
This is exactly what reading Woke Up In a Strange Place was like for me, drifting along on a river of words that flowed at once serenely then became turbulent in their emotional depths. Eric Arvin sat down in front of a computer one day and began to tell a story, opening a floodgate of imagery so museful and inspired that it lured me in, in all its subtle tranquility, and then drew me under, setting me adrift on an unexpected journey that transported me to a place far, far from where I’d begun, a place that is other and exists just beyond the veil of “I am”, in a place we may know as “I was”.
Imagine, if you will, that we are little more than souls inhabiting a temporary shelter, traveling on an endless journey that loops in a continuum of beginnings, the sort of beginnings that lead us down a path once traveled then forgotten that must be traveled then remembered before we can begin again. The journey will take you through a Neverland of wondrous and impossible possibilities, an Elysian Field where each station of the course is laid out in a carefully constructed relief map of the unexpected, where those who are expecting the unexpected watch and wait in remembrance of us.
Joe has set out upon this journey through his own Avalon, chasing his life in death through snippets of memory until the moment he will reach the thing closest to a heaven only he can claim as his own. Only, Heaven is closed for business…or, is it?…in this through-the-looking-glass adventure, in this searching of souls where a man discovers that the pride in all his battles in life have built the strength that leads him to a love of lifetimes.
Over land and water and through the skies, Joe will encounter places of grief and regret, of seduction and salvation, of mystery and revelation, places of grace and of love, and faith and forgiveness. It is the place called the Eternal Second, the place where mythology meets the poetic, and where Joe will search for The Stranger he knows so well but can’t yet remember, not until he relives time and time and time again.
Woke Up In a Strange Place is a story of death and rebirth, of destiny and second chances, like an ambling journey through a long and winding poem written in perfect symmetry and rhythm, a visual journey sketched on the mind’s eye of halcyon days and a tempest of moments that have served to build a man from beginning to end to beginning again.
I love this book, love it with everything there is to love about storytelling and wordsmithing and imagination and speculation about what lies beyond for us all. It is personal but not only to the author. It is personal to each and every one of us who is willing to read and examine our beliefs of what happens once we shuffle off this mortal coil, but it is not a story of what happens after we die.
This is a story of what happens after we’ve lived.
The book is subliminal and it is sublime, and if you haven’t read it yet, I can’t recommend highly enough that you do, and soon.
Reviewed by: Lisa