Thursday, November 22, 2012

Reader's Diary #901- Corey Redekop: Husk

Corey Redekop's Husk is the 2nd of two Canadian zombie novels I've read in past couple of months. It's inevitable that I'd compare the two. Let's get it out of the way: between Redekop's book and Victoria Dunn's Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies, Redekop's wins hands down. While both are satirical horror-comedies, the writing in Husk is tighter and more focused, the characters are more fleshed out (get it?), and the jokes seem relevant to the plot. Plus Redekop doesn't flinch on certain topics. He knows you're wondering how zombies use the bathroom, so he goes there. On that note, he also goes for the gross out, so it may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Of course, it's also inevitable that I'd compare Husk to Redekop's previous novel, Shelf Monkey. I wouldn't declare this contest as clear cut, but I'd have to go with Shelf Monkey. To be fair to Redekop, I'm a bit of an anti-zombite. It's weird, I was all over monsters as a kid: vampires, werewolves, mummies, but even then, I couldn't get behind zombies. I just found it all too silly and I couldn't get behind them. The only zombie movie I've ever liked was 28 Days Later, and I'll argue until I'm blue in the face that it wasn't really a zombie movie. So Redekop can hardly be blamed for my lack of interest in the topic. Though he can be blamed that Shelf Monkey was of a topic that was dear to me: books. So, it's Shelf Monkey for the win.

As for Husk itself, it is as I've said, a satirical book, that merely uses zombies to make points mostly about western, or more specifically, pop culture. (At one point I was convinced it was a thinly guised commentary about Charlie Sheen's most recent breakdown.) It focuses on a man named Sheldon Funk who awakens during his autopsy, only to discover that he has died and for all intents and purposes, a zombie. Keeping the book light is both a blessing and a curse. If you're like me, it'd be hard to take a zombie seriously anyway. You expect that with the killing and the like for it to be dark, but a dark comedy. But Redekop's characters (the main characters anyway) are usually so rich, it seemed like a difficult balance to maintain. Sheldon contemplates his relationships and career a lot, even the physiology of his zombie-ism, but I sometimes found him too nonchalant about the fact that his life, or body, will never be the same again. Then, had he dwelt too long on these kind of matters, it risked the book becoming too serious, too much of a downer. On similar lines, but this time no real fault of Redekop, the cannibalism reminded me too much of Luka Magnotta. I know I should be able to put that out of my head. The book was written and published before anyone even heard of him, but it disturbed me too much and too recently to shake it off while reading Husk. Not that I think such topics are off-limits for comedy, and probably most readers wouldn't draw any significant comparisons. Had Magnotta not been all over the news this past summer, I'd have been fine with the cannibalism in Husk; Jeffrey Dahmer and other such whack-jobs probably wouldn't have even crossed my mind. Again, my issue, not Redekop's.

In any case, even with my hang-ups, I quite enjoyed the book and am quickly turning into a huge fan of Corey Redekop!

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