The Trouble with Postmortality

From The Threepenny Review:

What good is a dead narrator? Well, by virtue of their recently dramatically changed circumstances the newly dead could possess that marvel-ous narratorial quality: they could be curious. Dante’s Dante, finally ascending to heaven, suffers from such urgent curiosity about God—in his words, “longing and questioning”—he has to be repeatedly lectured on decorum by Beatrice. In his passion to understand, Dante voices problems so metaphysically recondite that Beatrice, no flatterer, seems to admire their toughness (“You need not wonder if your fingers are unable to undo that knot: no one has tried, and so that knot is tightened, taut!”). Over longing and questioning, the new literary dead favor wariness and skepticism; postmortal fiction partakes of the weariness of a classroom in which questions are seriously unhip. As a result, postmortal narrators seem reassuringly unscathed by death, and maybe the almost offhand deconstruction of death, removing it from consideration, not simply as a trauma capable of inspiring terror, but even as a puzzling or strange transition, is one ambition these works have in common. Death once deconstructed, there’s no more dying then?

More here.