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"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

September 29, 2010

Get Michael Gerber's New Book, 'Life After Death for Beginners' For Free

What if John Lennon secretly survived his shooting in 1980? What would he have done for the past 30 years? What would he think about what's happened in the world? And how would he feel about the person who tried to kill him?

That's the premise of Life After Death for Beginners, my good friend Mike Gerber's new novel. Mike has written eight novels and parodies (including the Barry Trotter series) which have sold over a million copies in 20 languages. But take it from me, since I've read it five times now: Life After Death is his greatest book. I loved it. It gets inside the head of (for legal reasons, someone very much like but not named) John Lennon in a completely convincing way. As you'd expect, it turns out to be very funny, very sad, very mysterious, and very weird in there.

And starting at midnight tonight, for 24 HOURS ONLY, Life After Death for Beginners will be available in electronic form completely free to readers of this site. I like to think this is because we've oozed our weltanschauung all over Mike and he's thanking us.

Here's how it works:

1. Chose either the EPUB (open format) or MOBIPOCKET (for Kindles)

2. Enter the coupon code "FREEDAY."

3. Enter your name and email, then download it for $0.00. (After tomorrow, it will be $4.99 for the electronic editions and $14.95 for a softcover.)

I really hope you'll get it, read it, and tell your friends. As I like to say, it's a cross between The Rutles and Three Days of the Condor. It's as though it were specifically designed to manipulate the pleasure centers of exactly the kind of oddballs who visit (and write) this site.

If you need more convincing, here's the official book description:

Life After Death for Beginners stars Tom Larkin, an impossibly famous rock icon who dies tragically at the hands of a deranged fan—or so the world believes. In reality, Tom narrowly escapes with his life. As he recuperates in a secret hospital for the super-rich, his loving but imperious wife Katrinka becomes convinced that it’s safer for everyone if the musician stays dead. Reluctantly, Tom agrees to live out his days in obscurity… until an old enemy reveals that his life is still in danger. Stripped of his former fame and access, Tom has to figure out who tried to kill him without publicly revealing his survival. His search leads him back to his old life, to the manager who made him a star; to the other three members of The Ravins, each dealing with his legacy in their own way; to his estranged daughter and the son who thinks he’s dead and of course, to Katrinka, the eccentric, devoted, public face of the Larkin myth.


—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at September 29, 2010 02:45 PM

One is struck by the similarity of the book's title to Life, and How to Survive It by Robin Skynner and John Cleese. Is Gerber's book an extrapolation of Skynner and Cleese's work, or is it, like the Rutles, whom you mention, more based on the Beatles themselves (and in particular, J*** L*****)? The latter seems more probable.

One speculates that the cover image may relate in some way to the song Free As A Bird.

re Life and How to Survive It:

Psychiatrist Skynner and humorist Cleese of Monty Python fame last collaborated on Families and How to Survive Them. Cleese, a former patient of Skynner's, confines himself largely to the role of straight man in their dialogue, although he, too, offers insights. Together they expand the idea of the healthy individual raised in a healthy family becoming a contributor to a healthy society. Particularly relevant is their astute analysis of our society's attitudes toward directness, money, celebrity and winning. The authors go on to discuss values, religion, death and change, all with an ingratiating lack of dogmatism.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at September 29, 2010 04:09 PM

The book was "Six Days of the Condor."

Any advice on which is the best EPUB reader (for Windows)?

Posted by: Mike B. at September 29, 2010 04:14 PM

I can't seem to get the coupon to work?

Posted by: metafalcon at September 29, 2010 04:21 PM

(I'll stay off this thread, I promise)

It's tomorrow, metafalcon. Should work as of 12:00:00 PST tonight.

Mistah--being as Jon and I both love Cleese/Skinner's books, I bet there's some overlap. As to FAAB, I didn't choose that image specifically to reference that song--but it fits. For those obsessed with The Beatles, the story will be full of clues/echoes; but non-Beatle freaks have told me they find it very satisfying on its own.

Posted by: Mike of Angle at September 29, 2010 04:49 PM

Comments: are they working?

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at September 29, 2010 08:48 PM

It downloaded for me, but I had to try a couple of times. It's a brilliant and beautiful book for insomniacs, that I can say.

Posted by: N E at September 30, 2010 02:21 AM

We prefer to beef up our Facebook and Twitter pages with witty quotes, at least until someone invents a way to impress people with an electronic bookshelf.

Posted by: LT at September 30, 2010 05:59 AM

I've read the first page, which has several amusing lines already. It's written in the first person (this chapter, at least), and our hero's spouse is European, it turns out, instead of youknowwhat like youknowwho. Similar, AND different. Neat.

I downloaded the book, no prob (and thank you, Mike) but apparently had no way to open it. However, I then downloaded

This is the future - you got to LIVE it [actively look for and download new software as needed] or LIVE WITH it [passively tolerate restrictions, up with which it is not necessary to put].

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at September 30, 2010 07:44 AM

Oh, the download won't work for my Kindle app! And now I done exceeded my attempts limit!

Posted by: Jon at September 30, 2010 10:02 AM

Jon, thanks for the heads up. The fulfillment department is working on it and will be sure to figure out a way to get you a copy that works.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at September 30, 2010 11:23 AM

Commenter Jon,
Sorry about that--I don't think the .mobi file has DRM, but just in case, I just sent you a fresh Calibre epub-->mobi conversion with no DRM (that I know of).

Anybody who has any such problems, just get in touch via Jon Schwarz, and we'll figure something out. I'll get you a version you can read.

Posted by: Mike of Angle at September 30, 2010 01:36 PM

What do I use to open the EPUB file?

Posted by: cemmcs at September 30, 2010 05:02 PM

Title and author duly noted. I'll order the book later in paperback. (Novels are meant to be held and tenderly caressed on sofas, beds and toilets-- blogs are the only literature appropriate for online.) Besides, I'm still reading Pynchon's Against The Day, to show you how behind I am.

Posted by: Paul Avery at October 1, 2010 02:15 AM

Cemmcs, I was delighted to see that you'd downloaded it! Adobe Digital Editions works for me with .epub files. I think it's free, like Acrobat.

Paul, you can buy the book at Amazon right now. It's in the Ingram database, too, so I suspect your local bookstore will have it come up on their computer as well. (If not now, in a matter of days; my printer says it can take a bit for the information to disseminate.) The print version looks great--nice cover, nice design--but I couldn't figure out how to get it to people for free, which is why I didn't offer it yesterday. Hope you like it!

Posted by: Mike of Angle at October 1, 2010 01:29 PM

Thanks Mike of Angle. I look forward to reading it.

Posted by: cemmcs at October 1, 2010 11:08 PM

Such a nice article...

Posted by: faraz at October 2, 2010 12:11 AM

Mike, I just finished it and I enjoyed it very much. Nice work.

Posted by: cemmcs at October 3, 2010 06:58 PM

Thank you, cemmcs! I'm so glad.

Posted by: Mike of Angle at October 3, 2010 08:07 PM

Hey Mike - just read the first few chapters, really enjoyed it so far - and i probably only get half the Beatles references.

as for the best EPUB readers for windows, i find that Calibre by Kovid Goyal is among the best - kinda like VLC player for ebooks :)

Posted by: almostinfamous at October 4, 2010 10:38 AM

Speaking of matters of life and death - and I recognize this is only tangentially related to the thread's main topic - I'd like to bring this text by Jacob Needleman, professor of philosophy at San Francisco State University, to the attention of the kind of oddballs that visit (and write) this site:

As human life in our era spirals downward toward dissolution in violence and illusion, one central question rises up before us in the shadow of which all teachings . . . must now be measured: How can humanity reverse the process leading to its seemingly inevitable self-destruction?

In the face of this question, the heart is restless, but the mind soon falls silent. It is as though the unprecedented crisis of our modern world confounds and all but refutes thousands of years of religious doctrine and centuries of scientific progress. Who now dreams of turning to religion for the answer when it is religion itself that lies so close to the root of war and barbarism? Who dares turn to science for the answer when it is advancing technology, the very fruit of scientific progress, that has so amplified the destructive powers of human egoism? And who imagines that new theories of society, new social programs, new ideologies can do anything more than wrap the falling earth in dreams of flying?

The mind falls silent.

But in that silence something within can awaken. In that moment an entirely new kind of hope can appear.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at October 5, 2010 07:32 AM

Thanks mistah Charley. Reciting the Lord is my Shepherd doesn't quite resonate with me the way it might have with my sheep-herding ancestors, and science is just an amplifier, which is the last thing fools like us need, but I'm not so sure that Buddha and Lao and Abraham were struggling with such different questions as we moderns. As to specifics, sure, but Kierkegaard did a pretty good take on Abraham and Isaac, and I think the basic existentialist dilemmas are much the same as they ever were.

We need new stories now, and they need to be human stories. Where has poor old humanity gone off to?

Speaking of many faces, here is a quote for you from a book I suspect you either like or would like, given your interest in native American religion:

"The truth comes into this world with two faces. One is sad with suffering, and the other laughs; but it is the same face, laughing and weeping."

Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux (J. Neihardt, 1932)

Five stars.

Posted by: N E at October 5, 2010 08:14 PM

I bet Isaac NEVER backtalked his Ole Man. Ya know, afraid of "settin' 'em off".

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 5, 2010 09:49 PM