Monday, February 22, 2016

Book Review: Mr. Suicide by Nicole Cushing

Mr. Suicide by Nicole Cushing
Paperback, 224 pages Published July 2015 by Word Horde

There is a lot that can go wrong when an author decides to commit an entire novel to an experiment. When a novel clocks at 210 pages and sticks with a second person narrative it is nothing short of bold. Readers often don’t even notice when writers play with styles. Ideally if a story is good enough the mechanics of how the story is told should not matter anymore. Once I get lost in a story I normally stop noticing the nuts and bolts.

Nicole Cushing’s novel however forces the reader to never forget how it is being told. If you are not familiar with the concept of second person narrative it is when the text directly speaks to you the person holding the book. Mr. Suicide declares this intent with the first sentence. “Like everyone else in the world you wanted to things you shouldn’t do.”

Like many things in this novel Cushing is pulling a slight of hand. Second person narrative is supposed to break the fourth and speak to the reader, but the narrative is personal one, directed by a character trying to figure himself out. I was very engaged in this novel and yet I was not sure as I closed the book for the last time that I ever learned the main character’s name.

The title character is the one you’ll remember. Mr. Suicide is the ultimate boogeyman because he is somebody we already know. It is quite a feat after all these years of horror fiction to create a monster like this. This monster speaks to everyone, he is not so much evil incarnate as he is doubt incarnate. Depression, self doubt as a monster is the incredible hook for this fantastic novel. This was perfectly revealed in the novels strongest moment on page 22. You make sound as if you know him? How do you know him?

That is why the second person narrative works so well, because in the end it is Mister Suicide speaking to you in the book. Sure Cushing is telling the story of a young man in Louisville, but you watch this monster make another monster talking to the young man in terms and feelings many of us understand. It is a gnarly work of razor sharp high lit horror. Yes you should read it, yes you will be impressed and if you read it the right way it will make you feel a bit nervous.

Lastly I want to say this. It is clear I was impressed by this novel. I decided to read it because it received praise from critics I trust. Desmond of Dread Media and Nick Cato of Horror Fiction Reviews. I had never written Cushing off, but as impressed as I was with this book I was equally not a fan of the first release I read of hers. A early entry in the new Bizarro author series Cushing released a book called “How to Eat Fried Furries.” I don’t think it represented her well as a author or her path.

Cushing is clearly a brilliant writer, I am so glad I came back to her work. Had I only given her one chance, I certainly would have missed on this wonderful book and this woman’s amazing growth as a author.

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