The Freewayfarers' Book of the Dead

John Okas, Author Permanent Press (NY) $28 (268p) ISBN 978-1-877946-60-8
After delivering a sly if somewhat cloying parody, in Routes, of Alex Hailey's epic, sound-alike work, Okas turns to psychic farce in the second volume of his Art in Heaven quintet, with equally mixed results. This time the focus is on preacher's daughter Sarah Black, in San Francisco grieving for her deceased lover, Corn Dog, with whom she had an illicit involvement in the first book. Sarah's protracted mourning leads to a serious depression that she attempts to remedy through marriage with playboy acquaintance Harry Swan, who needs a faithful spouse to maintain the terms of his trust fund. Despite Harry's ardent efforts to please her, Sarah remains romantically uninterested, preferring to pursue an obsession with the occult that reveals, among other surprises, her ravishment by a libidinous spirit in the form of a multihued monkey. The latter part of the novel deals with Sarah's teenage daughter, Glory, who must cope with the financial ramifications of Harry's sudden death from a sex-induced heart attack as well as with her mother's goofy psychic legacy. Many of Okas's comic scenes are entertaining enough, and his inventive conceits often begin with promise, but his propensity for bad puns and silly humor is an acquired taste that wears thin; the psychic material in particular seems juvenile. Okas has a funny streak, but he'll have to add some maturity and discipline to the mix to harness his talent in the promised next volume of the cycle. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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