The Suicide Club
When one family is there to help you get to your final resting place in a timely fashion supplying you with the tools you need in order to end your life, what more can you ask for. The service is first rate. The equipment you need is specially ordered if necessary and the instructions you are given will help expedite matters getting you where you want to go in the next world must faster. Meet the family that thrives on death. Meet the family whose goal it is to help you find the right weapon of choice to take you life and never have look back or for that matter anywhere ever again. Customers are adamant about finding the right things to help with their quest to ending their lives and Mishima and his family are right there to assist. We have Marilyn who has poor self-esteem and seems to just go along with the group and enjoys learning about the poisons, the dangerous elixirs and just wants to have more responsibility and seems to not really care that her parents are constantly putting her down. She is not pretty according to them and her only hope is to remain in this business. Then we have Victor her brother who is totally depressed, miserable with life and just wants permission to take his own but that won’t happen since he is the genius of the group and creates most of the amazing things being sold. With gauze wrapped around his head to block out the noises, not listening to any happy music played by our third child, Alan who seems to be you might say the misfit of this family like Marilyn Munster, Victor provides the insight into just why he is miserable, why life is a downer and the genius behind his inventions.
His latest thought as you continue reading will be an amusement park that deals with death defying rides and exhibits to speed up anyone’s demise. Just think, no one leaves alive and no complaints. How great is that for the owners? But, there is a bright side you might say when someone buys a poison, gun or any other item and it does not work and they come back again, which is rare, it means it is not your day and you have more life to live. But, so many are depressed and so many cannot handle life. Like the teacher who hates his students and boss or the woman who just wanted something feminine. Madame Tuvache is wife of Mishma and she provides the sarcasm, insight and business acumen of the Suicide Club and even guarantees their suicides. Even including some history about snakes, Cleopatra and scenes that are so graphically depicted you, the reader will enter this shop and decide for yourself whether you want to try one of the amazing and surefire products to eliminate your life and bring you deathly bliss.
The world is dismal and the future is does not look very promising and an environmental problem has taken over the world and the news on the radio is always negative. So, what can you do to remedy the downtrodden feeling that permeiates the air? Visit the Tuvache family and join in the fun and take part in your own suicide. Getting to know each family member is quite interesting as Alan is what you might they their unwanted optimistic, Marilyn, their femme fatale, Victor their budding genius and the two parents just in love with death, money and making their customers happy. Suicide aids that come from Don’t Give A Damn About Death, their supplies, offers many ways for each customer to go to the next world and beyond. Let’s make your death a success is their motto! But, not everything remains the same and when Marilyn’s lips are injected with a special poison or venom that she can use to kill customers with her saliva. Rather than flowers and or a telegram she now handles what some call the kiss of death of gram for the produce section of the shop. She does not realize that it will impact her relationship with the cemetery warden. When she is ordered to kiss Ernest she refuses and no one realizes that the other customers that have been kissed are still alive. Finding no happiness, laughter or love in anything this family muddles on until something snaps, Alan goes to training camp and no one sees the sunlight just the dark clouds or storms.
Alan and Victor team up and create masks that change the perspectives of those who wear them but you won’t believe how. The mother creates a dinner and hopes it is awful but Alan ruins it by saying it is amazing and she might consider opening a restaurant. Vincent decides to make some unusual pancakes, Marilyn contributes in other ways, the father becomes depressed and goes to his room and the mother begins to sound like Alan. Watching the news should be frightening enough and provide enough fuel for them to reorder more suicide aids to help everyone get on with their deaths. But, the author cleverly and subtly changes gears as we hear the parents discussing Alan’s happy attitude, his positive viewpoints forcing him to watch the news and hopefully cheer if people dies on planes and not think about the survivors. But, when his mother starts imitating him and saying that life is lovely what can the depressed father do?
When a women comes into the shop and Alan is the chosen sales person telling her to “look at yourself using the reflection of the mask.” Trying to make this woman realize she is not monstrous took time, kindness and patience. The end result you have to read for yourself in Chapter 25. Alan is not comfortable in this world and manages to find his own place within a family that does not accept him for who he is. Imagine someone cheerful in the midst of sorrow. Imagine someone finding humor in death. But, something happens and the entire family, except the father at first seems to changing. Could Alan’s optimism be contagious? Why change their motto to “Kill yourself with old age!” The Suicide Shop is hilarious in some respects and sad in others. The sun shines when Alan is around and the changes made within the shop will surprise the reader. How these changes come about will definitely bring smiles, laughs and even tears to your eyes. When someone comes in to buy something for his own death why question that it is free? So, what happens when Mishima locks himself away in his room? What is the epiphany he has that might bring him around? The setting is the City of Forgotten Religions making you wonder if the people in this town come from so many different cultures and places and understanding that for them life is hard, doomed, acid rain falls and the world is not a great place to be in. When will the tide turn?
So, what would you like to buy in this unique store? They have everything you could want and will try to accommodate your budget. From selling items, to assisting customers that need that extra bush, to giving on derelict a free carrier bag to suffocate himself to promote their store: Has your life been a failure? Let’s Make Your Death A Success clearly marked for all to see. This novel has something for everyone but one thing is true from the gloom and doom and the sadness and death comes Alan as the you might say unwanted son of Mishima and Lucrece’s born with what you might say a genetic flaw called love and happiness.
Translated into English by Sue Dyson, the humor is there, the story easy to follow and really fast paced. Jean Teule’s humor is quite subtle and the cover of the book makes you want to enter the store and see what else is there. Funny, hilarious, thought provoking, entertaining and definitely well written with characters so diverse in many ways yet the same as they all try to find their niche in a world gone dark, sour and bleak.
The ending is quite dramatic and the final sentence and scene will surprise the reader as the government decides to take action, the role of the family in this catastrophe and the end result will forever change your views on death, the suicide shop, life and the unexpected. When Alan takes a step back and views his family in a different light what happens will change more than just their perspective on life. This is a must read for everyone needs a sugar boost, candy boost or elixir to appreciate life. To Life! à la vie : a la vida
Fran Lewis: Reviewer