It’s a real pity that a copy of China Mountain Zhang has been languishing on my bookshelf, because what little I’ve read of Maureen McHugh I really like. Take “Ancestor Money,” (collected in Mothers & Other Monsters) which was read on Podcastle a few months ago. Rachel is spending her afterlife in Swan Pond Kentucky, when she receives notice of an offering of ancestor money from her granddaughter. And she has to go to Hong Kong to claim it.
What follows is a dreamlike journey, on conveyances and with people from all ages and many places, converging on Hong Kong. We learn a little about the customs of the traditional Chinese afterlife. We meet all manner of curious details, from casual demons to hordes of monkeys. The journey concludes with a wonderful passage about what eternity means. And then she’s at peace.