I Never Saw Paris by Harry I. Freund
A Novel of the Afterlife
Irving Caldman was out to shop for some blue shirts. As he stands on the corner in Manhattan with three other people, a car jumps the curb and kills them and the driver. Soon all five of them together are facing the angel Malakh. His job is to prepare them for the upcoming judgement. They have to review their lives with each other and decide how they will face this judgement.
They each have different stories. The car driver is a Hungarian Jew who survived Auschwitz. The fashionable middle-aged woman is a personal shopper for the rich of New York City. The young man left Ohio when he was out of high school and went to make his fortune in New York. The older black woman is an evangelical Christian who spent her life doing domestic work. Caldman himself is a 64-year-old Jewish business man who married the boss’s daughter and since has done very well for himself.
Do not try to read I Never Saw Paris from any sort of theological viewpoint. It is fiction with an open view of the afterlife in Jewish and Christian terms. Freund’s writing has a bit of a biting edge. As Malakh explains to them, they are all average people, not extremely nor extremely bad. They’ve all done bad things as well as good things in their lives. Which will be more important at that final judgement? How will these five strangers bond in this most intimate circumstance?
Harry I. Freund has written a short book that reminds us how important our lives have been. Malakh rests on important events in their lives, but each soul is reminded that their whole life is important. The author tells the story in Caldman’s first person narrative, so the reader has a window into the thoughts of a man who has suddenly died, has to release his life and the things important to him, and examine that same life for a final judgement. Caldman himself had a penchant for women, any woman, during his life, so his thoughts often revolves back to his own…guilt?
Since I had problems with Caldman’s life, I couldn’t get real involved in this novel. The writing has an edge but doesn’t get real strong. Yet I Never Saw Paris does have a way of reminding the reader what is important in life.
Notice: Suggestive dialogue or situations
Publicist provided for review
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