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I Never Saw Paris    by Harry I. Freund order for
I Never Saw Paris
by Harry I. Freund
Order:  USA  Can
Carroll & Graf, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

I Never Saw Paris is an examination of life after death that is both humorous and moving. Author Harry Freund depicts five people, who died at the same time as a result of a traffic accident, slowly coming to grips with the meaning of their lives.

As the group is quizzed by the angel Malakh and others, we learn a little about the procedures involved once our souls are released from our bodies. The heavenly atmosphere closely resembles a large corporation, with lots of stress for the angels because there are so many souls to process and much competition amongst themselves to make a positive impression on the Judge.

The principle narrator, Irving, has great insights about the others, but needs lots of help to see just what his life has really been. After the victims outline their lives, the angels drill down deeper, and we see that each life has had its shadows, some more obvious than others. Those who suffered are not in as much trouble as those who had it easy. But as time goes on, group members, first appalled at each other's biographies, come together, each person recognizing the humanity in the others.

The author has Irving's voice just right, a Jewish businessman struggling to justify what he thought was a reasonable approach to living. The four others do not come as sharply to life, but their stories are mighty interesting. At only 196 pages, I Never Saw Paris is a quick read and could make an interesting gift.

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