cover image Dark Tunnel, White Light: My Journey to Death and Beyond

Dark Tunnel, White Light: My Journey to Death and Beyond

Philippe Labro. Kodansha America, $20 (240pp) ISBN 978-1-56836-200-7

The ability of the near-death experience to transform a participant's life is by now well known. Just how life-altering the experience can be, however, is vividly and movingly chronicled in this first nonfiction work by Labro, a successful French novelist (Le Petit Gar on) and filmmaker. The cause of Labro's ""crossing"" is an undiagnosed ailment that is slowly strangling him. As he lies in the intensive-care unit of a French hospital, he begins to receive visits from loved ones who have already died and wish him to join them. Labro is understandably confused by this. It is through this chaos, however, that he achieves one of the book's most impressive feats. By weaving his narrative in and out of his consciousness, allowing it to follow a dreamlike rather than linear line, Labro enables readers to feel as if they, too, are on a journey to understanding. As Labro slowly gains the emotional and physical strength to say ""no"" to death, he imparts various ""principles."" To those who are told by doctors or nurses that a comatose or very ill patient can't hear what they're saying, Labro urges, ""You must speak to those who are considered beyond the reach of words, because words, in fact, get through. They need only be words of love."" Labro leaves the reader with a final, priceless bit of advice: ""You must do better with your second chance at life."" (Oct.) FYI: Dark Tunnel, White Light topped French bestseller lists for nearly half a year.