Josh Climbs the Tree of Life is an unmitigatedly silly retelling of what Joseph Campbell would call "The Hero's Journey."
In this iteration, a teenage slacker named Josh accepts an offer from the Egyptian librarian god, Thoth, to guard the Secrets of the gods in exchange for a weekly bag of good weed. What results is an unlikely friendship between a boy and his god and, ultimately, unrest in the Cosmos. As the story progresses, the precarious balance of the Universe is gravely threatened, as is Josh's life.
Woven into the story are several universal earthly challenges-the insecurity of adolescence, the difficulties of parenting, and the heartbreak of caring for infirm elderly parents.
Josh's struggles are those we all must face-to learn to love our family and friends, to seek enlightenment, and to avoid looking like an idiot when trying to impress a cool chick (or dude-whatever the case may be). It is the author's fondest desire that this goofy story will bring smiles to a few faces.
"…exactly the book I have been looking for,"
"A whimsical tale with plenty of zaniness that revolves around a sentimental and philosophical core."
JOSH, a teenage stoner
THOTH, librarian of the gods, who develops an unlikely friendship with Josh
SESHAT, his wife
HAYDEN and ZACH, Josh’s friends
GRAMPS, Josh’s grandfather, who suffers from dementia
THE GODDESS OF DISCORD, his caregiver
OSIRIS, chairgod of the Executive Committee of the gods
ATHENA, goddess of wisdom
APHRODITE, goddess of love
THOR, god of thunder, Josh’s nemesis
YAHWEH, god of Abraham/Ibrahim
Various minor characters, both human and divine, are introduced
Excerpt from Chapter 7
After school (or at least after the first four periods), Josh talked Hayden and Zach into pooling their money and going to the hardware store down by the mall. Luckily, Zach had his dad’s truck that day, so they were able to buy a few hundred pounds of sandbox sand, a couple of fake palm trees, and a heat lamp. They stopped at the market on the way to Josh’s place and bought some pineapple juice and protein powder. The whole while, Josh was telepathing silent requests to Thoth for a special dispensation that would allow his buddies to see the chicks in his Gramps’ room.
Thoth did not disappoint, although that may not necessarily have been a good thing. It was pretty hard to get any help out of Hayden and Zach as they stared at the unbelievable babes in Gramps’ room. The Maenads’ squeals of delight as the boys transformed Jen’s old room into a white-sanded beach proved to be quite motivating, however, and soon it was a pretty cool-looking place.
Josh rolled a blunt the size of a cigar and, after having introduced Gramps to Dr. H and Dr. Z, passed it around, explaining to Gramps that since they were in Cancun, they were able to get Cuban goods.
“Why, I haven’t partaken of a good Cuban stogy since my youth!” exclaimed Gramps, “Like the kids would say, don’t bogart that thing; pass it on down.” Before long they were all having a great time, their pleasure facilitated by the view of the backyard, where the Maenads had started a beach volleyball game in Josh’s old sandbox.
Josh handed Gramps a tall glass of pineapple juice and protein powder into which he had inserted a lame little umbrella that he had found in a kitchen drawer. “Take this pina colada a little slow, Dude; it’s your fourth one and you haven’t had your dinner yet.” Gramps quaffed it with gusto. “My Gramps the pimp is back!” thought Josh.
The party was interrupted by Josh’s mom’s entry with Gramps’ dinner. Josh held his breath until he saw the grin on her face. “How sweet of you boys to come over to comfort my dad. And the room is just darling!” Her delight was intensified by the sight of Gramps ravenously devouring his dinner.
It was only then that Josh realized that the skinny lady who took care of Gramps was also in the room. How long had she been there?
Lee Vranna's personal motto is "Sapere aude*…et goofy!" His decades as a husband, doctor, dad, brother, friend, and son have given him the privilege of sharing in a slice of humanity's times of most profound suffering and most ecstatic joy. The result is the eccentric view of human nature and the deep love of the human spirit that he hopes have declared themselves in Josh Climbs the Tree of Life.
He lives in the Pacific Northwest.
* "Dare to be wise."