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Why Are There Monkeys? (and other questions for God)
Brooke Jones, author

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

The absolutely TRUE, deeply INSPIRATIONAL, laugh-out-loud FUNNY story of the author's Near-Death Question and Answer Session with God (and she was given PROOF that it really happened!) If you think a conversation with God could not possibly be FUNNY, you're in for a BIG surprise!
With whip-smart wit and a breezy frankness, Jones (Breast Cancer Warrior) opens this appealing account of briefly dying in 1975 and engaging in (what she perceived to be) a colloquy with God with a succession of quotable laugh lines. “I had never heard of ‘Near Death Experiences,” she writes, after brisking readers through the basics of her childhood, college experience, and religious beliefs. “For me, born and raised in and around New York City, bright lights and tunnels were nothing more than the basic ingredients of traffic jams.” Jones, in her 20s, overdosed and was briefly, clinically dead; after a comic introduction, the book recounts her memories of what she felt, saw, and discussed before she came back. “It’s amazing what a dead girl can do in eight minutes,” she notes, before offering a series of comic conversations with a booming, disembodied Voice—a God who, she’s relieved to learn, has a sense of humor.

That Voice asks Jones the most imponderable of questions: “What would you like to know?” The book’s title offers a hint about the nature of the ensuing discussion, and as Jones and this God engage in patter-comedy routines, readers open to playful considerations of spirituality will find both pleasure and insight in the back and forth. This God offhandedly reconciles Darwin and the Biblical story of Creation, tosses out provocative possibilities (“Who said the Garden of Eden was on Earth?”), confirms the existence of a devil (“one of My very best creations”), and toasts the 1969 Mets as an exemplar of miracles.

“Making God laugh is a trip,” Jones notes, and that casually irreverent tone characterizes a work that’s both funny yet serious. Readers may wonder at first whether this is a fictional prank, but it’s soon clear that a spirit of conviction powers her story, even as that story’s told by a gifted entertainer who can’t resist punching it up. She’ll make you laugh, too.

Takeaway: An irreverent yet wise account of a near-death experience and a talk with a chatty, amused God.

Great for fans of: Kelly Barth’s My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus, Avery Corman’s Oh, God!.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-

the U.S. Review of Books

Why are There Monkeys? (and other questions for God)
by Brooke Jones

book review by Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, MSW

"I’m dead. I’m standing at God’s front door, and I’m talking to God! I would have dropped dead out of pure shock, but inasmuch as I’m already dead, it occurs to me that would be redundant."

From the initial disclaimer to the end of the book, this is an extremely funny book that examines life's vulgarities while focusing on a near-death experience (NDE) the author had as a young woman. She considered herself, as a non-practicing Jew, to be a "Closet Agnostic." When she died for eight minutes, she experienced a feeling of floating, going through a tunnel with white light, and having a very interesting and confusing conversation with God after doing a few too many 'shrooms and heroin.

She finds God to be funny. She describes the experience as a "cosmic irony." Asking both inane and profound questions of God, she is fascinated—and perhaps a bit horrified—by God's answers, for who knew that God is a hermaphrodite and that the human race may have come from extraterrestrials?

This is a hysterically witty, irreverent, sarcastic book regarding an NDE, an event most people wouldn't find so entertaining. They might find it fascinating, scary, mystical, spiritual, or religious but not a romp via an overdose. The author explores topics such as God's race, gender, beliefs regarding evolution and creation, evil, why she got the mumps, why she didn't get a pony when praying for one, whether PMS is spiritual, and various other questions. This short book is actually quite profound, and this depth is found within the conversations with God. Only a special writer could craft such a story. Although the book is sure to offend both believers and non-believers alike, it may also lead some to think deeply about their beliefs. It is not to be missed.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review of Books