Maggie Bara’s new collection of short stories, How to Get to Heaven When Everybody Hates You (and Other Ghost Stories) is a book filled with twisted humor, lyricism, and great insight on the trivialities and great mysteries of this life.
We see a woman stealing stars; a man named Geoffrey navigating the afterlife; ghosts who can’t bear to haunt people; hiding from heaven landlords. We see people being haunted by other versions of themselves. We see a woman hearing the voices of ghosts through her headset at work, and the following interrogations by tired police. We see characters stuck between dream-worlds and “real life.” But I know that we all are. Do you?
Included in all of this fantastic drama are these wonderful lines that make the heart stop because of their beauty:
The ghost Alex tells us,
Calm the waves… Just sit silently and the shudder will reflect onto them. Be the smooth mirror lake beneath the darting, manic stars. Quiet or I’ll leave you now, and then where will you be?
There are also these tragically comic passages that made me laugh out loud. I think Geoffrey was my favorite character; the star of the title story.
Geoffrey tells us that high school is certainly worse than death, and he is angry when, he as a ghost is looking while a middle-schooler got his hands on Geoffrey’s vintage copy of Catcher in the Rye.”
He tells us later, “Maybe on the ride to hell they give out gelato and champagne.” Who knows? Maybe Geoffrey is right.
Geoffrey also tells us how he reacts to his death—his death by suicide. He certainly takes it all with a grain of salt, it seems. He says that “He’d seen the movies, read a book or two—or at least checked the Sparknotes—so he knew about the eternal damnation of ‘tortured lost souls’ who took their own lives.”
I was so glad to be introduced to this little gem of a book. You can choose where to buy your own copy and read it for yourself (please do!) by clicking here: