canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

Some Sunny Day

By Paul Davies
Insomniac Press, 2005

Reviewed by Adam Swimmer

I'm always amazed that something so short can be so dense. When I first got my copy of the 159-page Some Sunny Day by Paul Davies, I figured I could breeze through it in an afternoon, especially since the beautiful woman taking a bath on the cover suggested its contents would be of a light and possibly erotic nature. But in fact I had to spend weeks forcing myself to wade through this self-proclaimed "death diary" of pop philosophy.

In 2002, Laura, a 27-year-old Torontonian, is run over by a delivery van after attending a performance of Orphée et Eurydice. When she "awakens" she finds herself in purgatory, which apparently is 1920s Southampton where the Greek Gods are running a music hall.

On the surface, this sounds funny, especially the thought of Aphrodite as a burlesque dancer, but most of the subject matter in this book is treated with absolutely no humour. And it seems this section is mainly an excuse for the author to show his knowledge of Greek mythology. Or at least Greek names.

Laura doesn't describe what a God is because she doesn't want to "offend your faith in the God or Gods of your own culture."

She also offers no real insights into death itself other than to admit it's a lot like life and dreaming: "Death is existence, experience, recollection, restitution and reflexion." Of course, the author isn't actually dead and apparently lacks the imagination to offer anything other than this as an explanation.

The Gods then take Laura to see the Oracle of Delphi for judgement. Her story ends there, sort of, as she experiences her other existences.

The bulk of the book are narratives following various people, ostensibly Laura's past lives, as they each come to terms with their own deaths. Every new narrative takes place earlier in time than the last, spiralling back all the way to 1280. Some tell their life stories while others simply lie on their death beds and think about their regrets. Some even infuse Eastern philosophy and history into their story lines, but none are especially memorable and they quickly become quite repetitive in tone.

The final narrative jumps forward in time to 2024 and beyond as a young woman, Vanessa (Laura's future self?) encounters a cyborg named Lillian from the future and they develop a relationship as they travel through time together, battling the final generation of the human race.

This story is far different from the rest of the book. It's written in the third person while the rest of the book is in first. And though largely unsuccessful, Davies tries to add comedy here, whether it's through references to Star Trek or having fun with silly 50-cent words such as "callipygous" and "hendiadys." The story has much more in the way of plot than the other narratives, so it is slightly easier to muddle through. And it has lesbians. Yippee!

But even this story doesn't really comment on anything. Though it seems to be trying to make one through the various references to Lillian's religious tattoos and how the humans are going extinct in the future.

Davies seems to think that simply writing about death will give his work gravity, especially since he's writing about so many deaths. But he comes off as pretentious because he's not saying anything other than people die. Well, maybe also that the soul is eternal. But I'm pretty sure someone said that before him.

Adam Swimmer is a freelance writer living in Toronto.







TDR is produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

All content is copyright of the person who created it and cannot be copied, printed, or downloaded without the consent of that person. 

See the masthead for editorial information. 

All views expressed are those of the writer only. 

TDR is archived with the Library and Archives Canada

ISSN 1494-6114. 


We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. Nous remercions de son soutien le Conseil des Arts du Canada.