Sunday, December 7, 2008

Book Review

There is more reason to read Charlie Huston's The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death than that it has a good title.

So long as you have a strong stomach, or at least like grossing yourself out, the book is thoroughly enjoyable. I, myself, fall in the former category, and so really liked reading this novel.

The great title is derived from the occupation the protagonist, Web, finds himself executing. Due to the slothful manner in which he deals with a tragic event, after some time of unemployment, Web has some debts to pay off which result in his agreeing to help clean up crime scenes. Along the way, the apathetic narrator and protagonist meets many colorful characters with whom he becomes involved in some form, including romantic interest and physical conflict.

With this novel, Huston has written something which is not found often enough: a great read. The novel reads quickly, but still makes the reader think. This book challenges the intellect without causing one's brain to hurt. There are moments when the reader may literally laugh out loud.

To be honest, I wasn't prepared to like this book. It is gritty, and the dialogue is fast-paced and witty in a way that many writers can't pull off. Yet I did enjoy this book. The human interaction in this book is very real. The protagonist is a very difficult character, and has reacted to the tragedy he endured in a manner which makes him, at times, (some would say most of the time,) unlikeable. He does, however, eventually confront what has happened, and the book ends with a feeling of hope without a cliche attached.

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