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Arlington novelist explores the other side

Posted by Daniel Adams  July 18, 2011 10:00 AM

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Arlington author Gary Goshgarian has never had a near-death experience, but he has always been fascinated with the phenomenon as it relates to two basic mysteries of human existence: where we came from and where we go.

‘‘Since at this age I’m closer to the latter,’’ he quips, ‘‘I decided to write about near-death experiences.’’

Published on June 21 by Macmillan’s Forge Books division, ‘‘Tunnel Vision’’ is the eighth novel for Goshgarian (who has written his last five under the pen name Gary Braver). In this thriller, a graduate student’s brush with death generates debate between religious beliefs of an afterlife and the science of neurobiology. According to Goshgarian, a surprise ending satisfies both sides.

Goshgarian said he interviewed about a dozen people who reported having near-death experiences involving out-of-body sensations, feelings of tranquility and unconditional love, and the sense of passing through a tunnel into a celestial light to greet dead relatives and spiritual beings.

While Goshgarian has seen no evidence himself of a spiritual world, he said, he has great respect for those who have.

‘‘As in all my novels, I hope readers see ‘Tunnel Vision’ as a book on a provocative subject within a well-told story with well-defined characters,’’ said Goshgarian, who teaches fiction writing at Northeastern University, where he won the Excellence in Teaching award in 1980 and was a nominee last year.

‘‘At the same time, with all the research I’ve done,’’ he added, ‘‘I want them to feel as if they’ve learned something, and closed the book with something to think about.’’

Goshgarian will be signing books Friday at 7 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble store in Nashua, and Saturday at noon at Borders Books at the CambridgeSide Galleria in Cambridge, and will speak July 27 at 7 p.m. at the Peabody Institute Library in Danvers.

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