Anna is a young widow who is finally getting on with her life after the death of her husband, Sean. Now engaged to be married, Anna meets a ten-year-old boy who tells her he is Sean reincarnated. Though his story is both unsettling and absurd, Anna can’t get the boy out of her mind. And much to the concern of her fiancée, her increased contact with him leads her to question the choices she has made in her life.
The story centers around a murderous scheme to collect a rich inheritance. The object of murder is Miriam Webster, who is to share in the inheritance with her half brother Warren, who lives with his childhood guardian Helga in the mansion where Warren and Mariam grew up. Confined to a wheelchair after recently suffering a stroke, Helga is cared for by her nurse Emily, a strange young woman who has formed a close bond with Warren.
Aaron’s father’s funeral is today at the family home, and everything goes wrong: the funeral home delivers the wrong body; a cousin gives her fiancé a Valium from her brother’s apartment, not knowing her brother is dealing drugs – it’s LSD and the fiancé arrives at the funeral wildly stoned; Aaron’s younger brother, Ryan, a successful writer, flies in from New York broke but arrogant; one uncle is angry over his daughter’s choice of boyfriends, and the other is cranky and coarse. Add an ovulating wife, a jealous ex-boyfriend, and a short stranger who wants a word with Aaron – what could he want? Would another death solve Aaron’s problems? And what about the eulogy?
Joe versus the Volcano is a fable which opens with somewhat surrealistic scenes of the dehumanization of Joe Bank’s job and work environment (at a company whose product rather literally screws people) with imagery that seems to have been inspired by the classic film Metropolis. Joe is diagnosed with an incurable disease, quits his dehumanizing job, and accepts an offer to briefly “live like a king, die like a man” – but to fulfill his agreement he must willingly jump into a live volcano on the island of Waponi Woo in order to appease the volcano god. En route to the island, Joe meets a series of interesting characters in NYC and LA, then boards a yacht, captained by Patricia Graynamore. During the voyage Joe and Patricia survive disaster, fall in love, and finally arrive at the island where they face their destiny.