THE MYSTERIES OF LIVING AND DYING REVEALED
by John Thomas Fuhler ; illustrated by Lori Dobberstein
Debut author Fuhler presents a book that’s part memoir, part otherworldly investigation.
This collection of memoiristic anecdotes comes with a caveat: “these stories are not about me,” the author explains—they are instead “parables” in which he has “been a participant and a witness.” These varied events include witnessing a car crash in Scotland, predicting a tornado, and encountering a wounded squirrel that was apparently seeking help. The author was born in 1958 in DeKalb, Illinois; he tells of growing up with an abusive, alcoholic mother and later developing interests in various subjects, particularly regarding linguistic and spiritual matters. Although he says that he’s never belonged to an organized religion, he asserts that he experienced the presence of the Virgin Mary and the Indian saint Anandamayi Ma. He tells of living in a number of different places and experiencing homelessness on more than one occasion; periods of hitchhiking, he says, have taken him far. His ultimate message for readers is that one should not face life “with fear and trepidation”; one should instead walk “humbly before the Creator” and be “fair in all our dealings with our fellow beings.” The work is organized into short, digestible chapters, which gives the book a steady flow. However, some chapters include passages that some will find hard to believe, such as a tale of encountering a “Bigfoot” family in the woods. In another chapter set in 1983, Fuhler describes meeting some men lugging a Steinway piano up a mountain; the main takeaway of the activity involves space aliens. At certain points, the stories generate more questions than answers; for instance, the author presents such concepts as demonic spirits and human communication with a rattlesnake with little context. Nonetheless, these disparate tales will leave readers with much to think about. The brightly colored illustrations help to add further mystery; the abstract art has a dreamy quality that often coincides with the tone of the text.
An invitingly personal account of the spiritual and the strange.