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Book Review: Spirited Life and Afterlife Stories by Mike Friedman

Updated on June 18, 2020
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has been a professional writer and critic of films, books, music and theater for over 20 years.

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Where Will You Venture After Life on Earth?

You Might Need An Emissary...

Nuelle, the emissary of the carriage to the Beyond, may be your escort one day. Where will you go next?
Nuelle, the emissary of the carriage to the Beyond, may be your escort one day. Where will you go next? | Source

Do You Have Questions About Life and Afterlife?

If you study philosophy, you have likely confronted the global religions and their alternatives to an afterlife. If you read science fiction or watch it in movies or on television, you no doubt have encountered many more alternatives to the next life, whether it is nonexistent, mental, physical, or other-dimensional.

All of this can raise more questions than answers can be provided by philosophy and religion.

If you have questions about what happens after the years we are granted on this planet - and even if you are sure where you will or will not go next - author Mike Friedman offers two sets of stories offering alternative answers that warm the heart and bolster the mind to come up with even more answers.

I am incapable of conceiving infinity, and yet I do not accept finity. I want this adventure that is the context of my life to go on without end.

— Simone de Beauvoir, La Vieillesse

Answers in the Footsteps of a White Horse

Mr. Friedman knows what he is writing, certainly, and has won the annual Best Fiction Writer Award for a number of years. He is esteemed and supported by many faithful readers and one hopes that you will join them.

The Carriage Driver, with a sequel to appear in the future, is a unique collection of stories about the lives and backgrounds of individuals and how they are escorted into their next chapters. I think that you will be moved by at least some of these stories. In fact, many people continue to read the book several times.

Meet a white horse in this book and be captivated. Let yourself be intrigued by each alternative journey.

Blackwaterfoot: horseshoe prints on the beach.
Blackwaterfoot: horseshoe prints on the beach. | Source

A Logical Choice for Considering the Afterlife

Michael Friedman is a logical choice of author to poke around in readers' minds in order to extrude creative thoughts about life and afterlife.

However, a site called Mediander.com, gave him the profile of a philosophy professor accidentally. What fun! Still, Mike makes philosophy of afterlife alternatives fun and easy to understand - something that many professors cannot achieve.

. From out of all this and more, Michael has created a set of stories about the physical and metaphysical that appeal to those outside university walls and to those who may never have thought about philosophy or what happens to humans after this life.

I am glad that he did this. Several of his stories are among my favorites of all stories from Ancient Days to Modern Times.

Who is the Mysterious Nuelle?

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Who is the Carriage Driver?

While one's earthly remains travel by coffin or urn of ashes to an end point, the long-time carriage driver in a top hat with his equine emissary Nuelle elegantly transports the real people departing this life. They all travel to different locales.

At the end of some of the driver's stories, you may wish that you could go along with the characters, their futures seem so compelling..

The departing souls enjoy a comfortable carriage ride, sometimes touring their hometown a final time before shimmering out of this dimension.

It is a much better ride than one would have with the boatman on the river Styx or on the Klingon Black Ship.

Sometimes, Nuelle is the only one who really knows what's going on in a particular case. This horse is always ready for the journey. So who is the real driver - the man, the horse, or both?

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Promises in Boston

Michael says in his own description of his book "This work presents the instances where a person’s life has led to a carriage ride to the Promised Land."

The book leads the reader to serene and/or stimulating thoughts in the current day as well. As a pastor once said, "Last Days!? These are our ONLY days, so we need to make the most of them."

But still, there is After.

The stories in this book encompass Boston, Massachusetts with place names that might be familiar to you. Other places may not be familiar at all - like the comfortable interior of the carriage drawn by Nuelle, who likes about half an apple for a snack every day.

The driver in the top hat is well dressed and kind, sometimes following Nuelle's lead as they gather souls for delivery to that Promised Land. Each individual has their own concept of it and some of these ideas are astonishing.

What might be called Heaven by many of us is located just past a way-station in the Beyond, called The Castle.

Castle In the Sky
Castle In the Sky | Source

Castle Options - Some Familiar, Some Not

In the other-wordly castle, the Traveler may meet friends and family, but even if (s)he meets no one else, (s)he enjoys the ministrations of a cordial staff. The Castle is pleasant and welcoming, a place to be nourished before going on.

Interestingly, such a place is found in certain religious teachings -- One pastor has described a glade under trees where angels bring food before one enters Heaven, for instance..

Travelers may rest a short while in the castle way-station and then journey on, or in some cases, they may even return to Earth for a special assignment mission. All the while, the carriage driver has his carriage, top hat, and horse at the ready.

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The Old High Silk Hat

Top hats can lead one to many places - like the Chocolate Factory, a Mad Tea Party, or the Promised Land. I imagine the carriage driver in the book to be someone like Fred Astaire or Patrick Stewart.

They Can't Take That Away

The way you wear your hat, The way you sip your tea, The mem'ry of all that No, no! They can't take that away from me!

— Fred Astaire in

Favorite Chapters

Each story is better than the last, but my favorites are likely the most unusual of the group:

  • The Aviarist - The gem-like colors of the world's birds bring to mind the rainbow, the light spectrum, flowers, and a jeweler's showcase. You may think of all those things as you read this engaging story. Do you know anyone who has collected colorful birds throughout a lifetime? What does one do with them ultimately? This story describes a beautiful option
  • The Pianist - Have you ever seen a piano in the company of angels? Is there music in Heaven? -- Many sources already say there is beautiful music there.

Other stories in this book focus on a trumpeter, children, couples, and individuals who come back to Earth rather than continue to the other side. And who takes people to "The Other Place" (no Heaven)? There seems to be a whole stable of them!

The Carriage Driver
The Carriage Driver
The first story in this anthology is good and grips the reader's attention, but each one following it is even better. When you reach the end, you want to return to the first one and start the journey anew.
 

Spirit In the Sky (Norman Greenbaum): Released in 1969

Consider Your Years Before the Carriage Ride

Will you be happy in your senior years?

Setting: It is around the the middle of the 21st century and you are in your 70s, 80s or 90s - are you happy? You could be!

As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.

— Criss Jami, Killosophy

So what if I'm ninety-three? So what if I'm ancient and cranky and my body's a wreck? If they're willing to accept me and my guilty conscience, why the hell shouldn't I run away with the circus? ... I'm not running away - I'm coming home!

— Sara Gruen, "Water For Elephants" book and film

As Lively As In Youth

The Quinn Moosebroker Mysteries
The Quinn Moosebroker Mysteries
This book captures the lives of an older man and an older woman who are still very lively and have adventures together that m,any young people would love to experience.
 
Quinn Moosebroker and Betty Atwood begin a long-time relationship at the 2nd Street Playhouse, a community theater whose members love old radio mysteries.
Quinn Moosebroker and Betty Atwood begin a long-time relationship at the 2nd Street Playhouse, a community theater whose members love old radio mysteries. | Source

Mystery Tonight!

Mysteries occur one after another in the lives of Quinn, Betty and his adult daughter. Some of these thrillers involve murder and others involve the backstories of classic pieces of art like those stolen during WWII raids by the Third Reich. We also hear about the lives of Quinn and Betty before the timeline of the book. The stories occur locally in Clearview Terrace, but take the characters to Europe more than once. The book has a pleasant variety.

The stories pack a lot of interest and action into the lives of an older couple. I hope the stories and the characters encourage older people to remain active as long as possible..

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A Man Needs A Trusty Auto

Quinn's major hobby is restoring and maintaining his 1946 wood-paneled Chrysler Town and Country (a "Woody") and an occasional trip to a book shop operated by Blake Knightly. The characters remind me of the inhabitants of the town of Pickaxe, Michigan in "The Cat Who" mysteries.

Another Helping Of Life

If you want to read about additional characters and their life events, you can try a copy of Mike's Emerald Wells Cafe and Pear Blossom Lane. The stories take place in and around a cafe diner in Emerald Wells, Texas and Mike says about this book: "It’s a western. It’s a poetry book. It’s a romance. It’s a food book. It’s the lost biography of the USA. In my heart, I am from Emerald Wells."

With over 400 pages of great characters and stories, this book is rated 100% at five stars out of five on Amazon.com.

You'll likely find something fascinating and engaging in any of these Michael Friedman books. No matter which ones you choose, they will give you entertainment and something to consider while you are figuring out where you will go after you leave Earth.

Beyond the door there's peace I'm sure

And I know there'll be no more tears in heaven

— Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton's Tears In Heaven

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Patty Inglish MS

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