There’s a sense of detachment to be found in people who deal with the deceased. Life, though, is not without its upheavals as long as one remains within its bounds. So how do you deal with the application of a spicy story to such resigned protagonists? Enter, Ms. Funkhauser with her masterpiece.
To put things in perspective, let us consider a phone call to a funeral house early in the story. It begins with the line: “This is Werner Heuer, Herr Forsythe. My wife and I have need of your services today. My son is dead.” Now consider the sentiment of Mr. Forsythe on the other end, depicted a few lines later: Charlie, calculating profit after disbursements, felt better already.
The author’s mastery begins with the very element she chooses to play with to pacify the contrast in her story - time. She opens the door at the universally agonizing hour of 9 AM on a Monday, then begins to step back, before we’re suddenly flung back to Day One: Postmortem - 15 minutes on. The only constant from then on is subtle versions of time-swing that soaks us in.
It is fascinating to watch people on two sides of a wall - oblivious to each other and looking at the same thing in an entirely different way - talk to each other but not listen. This is especially so when that wall is the border between life and after-life. In the story, we have Enid on one side, who loses someone once important to her - Heuer - without a chance to say a final goodbye. On the other side, we have Heuer whose story, and in some way, life itself unfolds after his death. As I recently expressed to the author in an interview, in a single stroke she introduces us to both our greatest fear and our greatest wish. And as she had then clarified, the very idea leads to the conclusion that there is no first or second chance, nor is there a wall. Everything we experience in the pages of time is in continuum.
A. B. Funkhauser likes to play with her narration. She liberally uses non-English phrases, alternates between classy and backstreet lingo, and most pleasingly, embeds past conversations in between the current ones. This fusion aids the above idea. But perhaps the most moving of moments comes when the dead asks God to prove His existence and has his prayers answered almost immediately, at which he frolics, “Yes ! Yes! There is a god!” That joy establishes the fickle unending of our quest for purpose.
The author compels us to make peace with a whole lot of commotion. For, in narrating the psyche of the deceased, she makes us face a choice - to use the time we have in peaceful altruism, or to burn ourselves out in constant churn of tit-for-tat scheming, which will not end even after we die. So from a Bastard’s indifferent generosity, to a Rat’s unconditional love, to an inanimate after-life existence in a Lamp, her message to us is beautifully laid out. As she states, beauty and elegance is not always spotted or even appreciated even when it’s right in front of your face.
A. B. Funkhauser's ultimate directive can be summed up in one word: Live. But it takes her book to understand how.
The author'z happy. Zhe'z buzy. And zhe haz opened up about her next novel...
For more Authors & Books, check out the section: Earth.
Bookz featuring me: