ELSEWHERE IS ABOUT THE AFTERLIFE and what it might contain. The protagonist of the novel, Albert Vaughan , is passively in transit through middle age, pretty much purposeless in the aftermath of his wife's violent death. He's a university historian well-conditioned to the roll and rhythm of his research and his courses, content within his routine. At a university art opening, Vaughan strikes up a conversation over drinks with a colleague, medical researcher, Dr. Lipsky, conducting experiments on Life After Death experiences. He's learned little, though, because people who die suddenly aren't usually prepared to report back if they survive. His subjects just aren't appropriately trained observers. Even if he could find such witnesses, he laments, they're not eager to being put to death for a minute or two. His funding is about to run out. In his numbed mind, Vaughn views a potential opportunity, a vanishingly thin chance of rejoining his wife. Anyway, reflects, Lipsky's experiment, however farfetched , was at least more interesting than what occurring in his current life.

The Afterlife doesn't turn out as expected, not for Vaughan and not for any of the other denizens he meets, a broad range of people, whose stories offer counterpoint to Vaughan's own journey in the netherworld, a place evidently from a place called Elsewhere, where one or more angelic or demonic beings are doing something...Nobody from Elsewhere is willing to come forward and answer the simplest questions.

Vaughan's equally bewildered fellow travellers are distracting, to say the least: Karl Marx and Ronald Reagan, for example, or Robert or Robert Oppenheimer, Simon Magus, Johanthan Edwards, and Adam, the Old Original as he calls himself. Adam is Vaughan's guide and protector through this distinctly modern Underworld. They travel through hot, darkened Austro-Hungarian fin du siecle drawing rooms, snowy cities, deserts, subway lines, up anddown in infinite elevators in skyscrapers with infinite interiors. The story of Vaughan's quest through these places intertwines with the funny, strange, frightening, sorrow-ridden and inevitably enlightening stories told him by the souls along the way.

Although this all sounds rather dreadfully philosophical, daunting, and hallucinatory, oddly it isn't. For what Vaughan finds, both in life and in death, is the commonalty of souls in their commonly bewildering, surprising, and evidently timeless existences.

So this book is about how real people are attached to pieces of History. It's also about the myriad ways human beings try to cope with “Elsewhere,” the place where God is or is not doing something that, at least in Vaughan's travels, stumps everybody. Strangely, the novel aspires to comedy, human and divine. I devoutly hope that you—gentle reader—will find it so.