Calling Up the Dead

Brett Weaver


Death, in most cases, provides writers with a convenient stopping point, a period after which readers can assume what they wish and the writer need not concern himself that their imaginations will, in any way, undermine that which has gone before: a character dies, and that is the end of it all.  In "Calling Up the Dead," however, Brett Weaver has managed to make "death" a starting point, or, in some instances, to allow it to form a new beginning--after all, funerals are for the living and not the dead. In the title story, an officious, unpleasant woman, Miss Mith, is transformed into a likeable character who discovers her ability to love through the spirit of her deceased father whom she has reluctantly come home to bury. In "Three for Tango" it is the fear of death, and its slippery companion, old age, which allows the Argentinian professor to realize the true love he has for his wife, despite his indiscretions which he has, initially, deemed so necessary.  And in "Knockout: A Fairy Tale," Nickolai comes to understand that the death which captured his parents does not need to also encompass him as he is rescued from his emotional quagmire by a death-defying young Russian woman.  The story "Regards the Balcony" demonstrates that, at times, death can be a much healthier alternative to life as the sorrow-filled narrator (an eighteenth-century French hotel  alcony) brings about the disillusioned protagonist's demise.  "Princess Preparation" transports the reader to darkest Africa where three children, refugees from genocide, immunized against the horrors of death, attempt to delve into the after-life and protect their ancestors.  "Grove of No Birds" examines the role of fortune and death as an Indian family revenges itself upon a cruel and despotic father, in front of a reluctant witness who is then forced to question himself and his location in life's waters.  And the final story, "Eternity Points," attempts to remove death entirely from life's equation as readers encounter a character who possesses eternal life, and yet finds no more happines than the average and "three--score-and-ten" narrator with whom she shares her horrific secret.  Death, in these stories, is, as it should always be, more than a character; it not only plays roles, but draws the line between where actors may and may not work out their drama--it is the moment in time prior to which everyone must speak their part before the silent curtain of memory falls.  

ISBN: 978-1-931982-21-4  trade paper, $14.95    Sale $5.50

ISBN: 1-931982-20-1 library binding, $25.00         Sale $10.50

About the Author: 

Brett Weaver, originally from Hayling Island, England, was schooled in that country until he was twenty, before entering Boston University. He graduated from Boston University in 1989, and—after a brief stint at the University of Hawaii—completed his M.F.A. in Fiction from Wichita State University in Kansas. He is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas.  He has published numerous short stories and two plays in such journals as New York Stories, Phoebe, Oasis, The Dickinson Review, The North Atlantic Review, and a critical article on Gabriel Garcia-Marquez in "Notes on Contemporary Literature."  Presently, he is at work on a screenplay entitled "Eternity Points," a memoir entitled "Diary of a Furniture Mover."

 Excerpt from the Book:

     Buphra’s head bobbed him awake as it struck the window. The bus in which he and his shiny new black leather briefcase traveled appeared to have a penchant for potholes. Every ten meters it seemed the great iron hulk would lurch from side to side, the driver screaming, then honking his horn and laughing as it righted itself. Several times Buphra had to hand baskets and plastic bags filled with godknowswhat to the old women who surrounded him as they cascaded down endlessly from the racks above his head. The women talked at an electric pace, as hot as the coming day, engrossed in their chatter and only occasionally looked to Buphra and smiled respectfully. They never once seemed to fear for their lives.
    But Buphra mused to himself: he had been away far too long. He was going to have to become acclimatized. He recalled Captain Aviery’s speech of welcome.
    “Fourteen years is a long time, m’ boy,” he had said as he clapped his arm around Buphra’s shoulder and led him out onto the porch of the JAR bar. “But how is jolly old, anyhow?”
    “Fine, sir,” Buphra had replied looking out over the seething purple mass of night and buildings that was New Delhi—or rather, the Western part of the city.
    Aviery sighed as he swept his tall gin and tonic across the horizon. “Did you miss all of this?”
    “London was not so different.”
    “But damn bloody cold, right?” Aviery leaned down and with his free hand patted his right knee. “That’s why I can’t go back, old chap. Bloody knees.” Then he added quickly, “Still, you can come and go as you please now, what? I mean, I hear old Sehru pays quite a lot for you ILC chappies.” He clapped Buphra on the shoulder. You’re an internationalist, m’boy. That’s what you are.”
    “Have you ever bought a ticket?” Buphra asked as they went back in to the lounge.