I always find that when people send me books who I don’t know too well send me books they shoot up the TBR faster than from people who I do know well. I guess I think the latter won’t be offended! This has been the case with ‘The Suicide Shop’ by Jean Teulé which a very kind reader of this blog sent me as a treat and because they thought that ‘it would be a very Savidge read’ and ‘mixes dystopian literature with lots of dark laughter’. I always wonder if the blog gives enough of my personality away and if my reading, which is quite varied I like to think, ever shows a pattern of what might make a book quite ‘me’. It seems it might, though you may not agree?
Set in a not too distant future the life for people in the City of Forgotten Religions isn’t great. The world has gone into a huge environmental decline; the sands are taking over and sulphuric acid rains down from the skies. There isn’t much to live for really as the world seems truly without hope. That’s where the Tuvache family come, in for they run ‘The Suicide Shop’ which has everything a suicidal customer could want no matter what the budget. In fact at one point they give a tramp one of their free carrier bags to suffocate himself with as long as people can see the logo ‘Has your life been a failure? Let’s make your death a success’ clearly.
However there is a flaw in the Tuvache family, as after generation after generation of miserable sons have been born Mishima and Lucrece’s youngest son Alan is born with nothing but joy, love and positivity in his heart. This is neither good for custom or indeed for the family as it seems to be contagious, even elder sister Marilyn falls in love with the local cemetery warden not long after she is injected with a venom that means she can kill with her saliva, making her the perfect kiss-o-gram for the shop. What follows is a comic caper of family drama and a wry look at just what could happen to the future of society.
I haven’t laughed out loud so much at a book in ages, not quite sure what that says about me? I know it’s a delicate subject but sometimes we need to have a look at the comic side of the worst aspects of life and this book does just that. What makes it such a great read is that despite their being the setting of a future world where anything could happen and having situations that could go into melodrama Teulé never does, it’s always just funny enough without going too far and some authors simply can’t get that balance. Teulé’s humour is spot on. Translator Sue Dyson must also have great humour to have translated this so well from its French origins too.
‘The Suicide Shop’ isn’t a book that I had heard about before I was so kindly sent it. My initial thoughts when it arrived where purely materialistic as ‘what a nice cover’ popped into my head along with the quote ‘you will die laughing’ it definitely had initial promise. However there has to be more to every book than a nice cover and a great quote, fortunately ‘The Suicide Shop’ is one such book. It didn’t change my life but it was damned entertaining. A darkly comic read that will leave you in shock by the ending that you won’t see coming, I had to read the last few paragraphs twice. I will be reading more Jean Teulé in the future if more of his books are translated. 8/10
Savidge suggests some perfect prose partners:
Little Hands Clapping – Dan Rhodes (set in the now this is a dark fairytale, rather than dystopian vision, or two which centre around a museum of suicide, its disturbingly funny)
Shades of Grey – Jasper Fforde ( the future has never been more dangerous nor so funny)