In the living room of novelist Merrill Joan Gerber's home in Sierra Madre is a harpsichord that is most often played by her husband, a retired Pasadena City College history professor. The presence of this musical instrument is fitting, because music plays a major role in Gerber's latest book, "The Victory Gardens of Brooklyn." At one point in "Victory Gardens," Gerber's 27th book, the central character, Musetta, a pianist and stand-in for Gerber's own mother, ponders the magic of music. It "made her feel she was flying outside over the treetops, over the river, away past Brooklyn, past the cemeteries and the houses and the endless stores of dead chickens and glassy-eyed fish."
It's the ultimate fantasy: You have a seat at your own funeral. Now imagine that while hovering in limbo between your death and burial, you have the power not only to witness the preparations and critique the eulogies, but also to eavesdrop on critical moments in your past for a reality check.