The novel is based on Crofton Croker’s short tale about the holy man who is lured from the monastery and off into the wood by the sweet singing of a little bird. He reemerges from the wood to find he has been dead for over an hundred years. How many brushes with death have you known? For my part, I have come within an inch of death perhaps a dozen times in my long life; some were medical emergencies, others were near-accidents, including the one that claims the protagonist’s life. I have often wondered in retrospect, when of an immaterialist state of mind, if perhaps I had died from one of those accidents, perhaps my soul had moved on to a self-deceptive mode of denial in an attempt to finish my unfinished business in life. This is not a new idea, but it is an interesting one.