Review: The Suicide Shop by Jean TeulÃ©
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The Suicide Shop
by Jean Teulé
Gallic Fiction, 2008
160 pages, ISBN 1906040095
$15.78/Paperback (spiral bound galley was reviewed)
The Tuvaches, a sort of working class Addams Family, operate The Suicide Shop--a shop where anyone can purchase the equipment and/or training required to off themselves (though children can only purchase sweets that have a 50% chance of killing them).
The story is set some time after North America has been laid to waste by the Big One--but for the most part it could pass as contemporary, with the odd bit of future tech: holographic greeting cards; a solution that turn one's kiss poisonous to others; 3d semi-immersive full-sensory television.
Mishima and Lucrèce Tuvache have three children--two depressed and/or ailing, and the youngest, bright and cherubic. This latter child, Alan, is the force that changes everything.
The chapters are brief, often terse, and the story progresses swiftly--at times a little too swiftly, in that I felt the characters bounced a bit too much in mood and disposition. At the same time, the quick pace kept me turning pages.
I was somewhat disappointed by the direction of the narrative--it's described as a quirky black comedy, but I found it more comedy, verging on slapstick, and less black (until, perhaps, the end). Alan's cheer and undauntable optimism quickly infects the rest of the family (except for Mishima, the father); even suicide commandos are shown to not be able to withstand his barrage of cheerfulness (a favorite quote: "I'll only be demonstrating this to you once!").
Still, it has a definite charm, and if you are perhaps less jaded you might get a real kick out of it throughout. I could easily see it being a cult favorite in the right circles.
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