Book Review

Tex and Molly in the Afterlife

Richard Grant, Avon Fiction, 1996

I’ve read a couple of fiction books recently that feature the NeoPagan community with all its warts and wonders. The best one is Tex and Molly in the Afterlife by Richard Grant. I’ve bought remaindered copies for half a dozen people, they’ve passed them on to others, and I’ve yet to hear a negative review.

Tex and Molly are (or ‘were’ ?) NeoPagan hippies living on a houseboat in a small Maine town. One night, after a botched Beltane ritual, they go to make an offering in a sacred well and fall in. That’s in chapter 2. The rest of the book is about their adventures in the Pagan afterlife, where they have to get used to the idea that they’re dead, and bargain with various Goddesses and Gods, bedraggled nature spirits, including a homeless tree spirit named Beale (Bilé), and powerful supernatural entities. They also try to help their still-living friends- a collection of Witches, eclectic Pagans, pompous Magicians, Dianics, survivalists, ecologists, stoned hippies, runaways, teenage hackers, wise Pagan children and wolf breeders.

The best stuff involves Tex, a sort of magical Huck Finn on the river of death, who never fails to be blown away by the whole idea that “This was, after all, the Ultimate Trip.” Tex goes through the triple death, transforms into an acorn, a bear, and several other things. His encounters with The Morrighan had me laughing breathless- and thinking, yes, I know this Goddess, this is true-to-life, or, after-life. Molly is a kind of wise Becky Thatcher, wiser still for having imbibed of the Salmon of Wisdom—

“How do you do that?” she marveled. “Some kind of butter sauce? Is that rosemary? And something tart...”

Lying on the platter, the salmon looked dismayed. Molly had a sudden quirky feeling- a little niggle of intuition, as though she had just become aware of, you know, everything.

The best thing about Tex and Molly is that you’ll recognize your friends, yourself, and the stuff you’ve got. Tex has an ADF Fast As A Speeding Oak bumper sticker on his car. Characters read Green Egg, and stacks of Parabola hold up potted herbs. I kept feeling like I’d met these folks, and, actually, I probably have.

Tex and Molly is a laugh-out-loud book about the afterlife- much, much funnier than Dante’s Divine Comedy- but, in the end, it’s a book about the magic of community and of the heart. Read it and tell your friends. Better yet, give it to your non-Pagan friends who don’t understand why you talk to your weeds before you uproot them.

(Richard Grant is also the author of several more serious books, including In the Land of Winter, about a ‘welfare Witch’ fighting for the custody of her daughter.)

—Reviewed by Edwin Chapman