Husk: a novel
ECW Press (2012)
Have we hit the saturation point with zombie novels, yet. If you believe we have, then you may as well stop reading this review. If you're like me, however, and think there is still water in that well, then here's a book you might like.
Writing a zombie novel must be difficult enough these days, but writing one from the zombie's point-of-view and keeping it from falling apart at the seams must be doubly difficult. I've read a couple that did the zombie tale that way well, and a couple not so well. So when I received a review copy of this novel, I had to wonder in which column Corey Redekop's efforts would fall.
Sheldon Funk is dead. The Toronto native and aspiring actor died on the toilet in a public transit bus, then woke up during his own autopsy. Oh, he's dead alright, just not entirely dead. After shambling out of the morgue and finding his way back to his old apartment, Sheldon tries to piece together the memories in his rotting brain, and reconcile that he's not only bitted a morgue worker, but devoured a former lover to boot. And that's just his first day of being a zombie. From there, Sheldon tries to salvage his life, particularly his acting career with the all-too-ordinary stage name of Gary Jackson. Poor Sheldon has been a bit of a disappointment in life up to this point, and it's ironically through his death that he earns a resurgence in his career. It's a bit tragic in a sense though, as he's broke, wallowing in obscurity, constantly trying to cope with his decaying form, watch his aging mother succumb to senility, and otherwise lead a desperate and lonely life. And then when people find out who he is, his existence is compromised in ways he couldn't have anticipated.
And yet Husk is a macabrely humorous novel.
Redekop's satiric look at acting and fame in general is pretty good, and made funnier by the ghastly depictions of Sheldon's attempts to navigate his life as newly famous zombie. The inner monologue of a guy who is literally rotting away was interesting, and provided a lot of the social commentary for the book. The opening chapter that has Sheldon contending with escaping the morgue while trying to hold his disemboweled body together is gruesome and outright hilarious at the same time. There were a few moments that the book seemed to lose its momentum, but tended to pick up with each new section. Incidentally, the sections are split up as the various stages of dealing with death, like denial and bargaining.
If you're a reader who is zombied out, you may still want to give it a chance for the humor, though you will need a strong stomach for the occasional gory depictions. If you're insatiably seeking some horror peppered with comedy though, I think Corey Redekop might just have the book for you. I just hope you're not squeamish.