'The Suicide Shop': Jump into this comically macabre novel
Life is dreadfully perfect in the Tuvache family's Suicide Shop. Business is booming as customers venture in to find the perfect way to end their existence.
Whether they are looking for a sturdy rope with which to hang themselves, razor blades to slit their wrists or the perfect poison to drink into eternal oblivion, the shop has it all.
Unfortunately for Madame Tuvache, her son, Alan, seems to be a little different. As a desperate customer shops for her own deadly ending, she notices something odd about the youngest Tuvache. He seems to be smiling.
In a family that prides themselves on helping people kick the bucket, Alan is a headache. He loves to greet people with "good morning" instead of "may you find a better world" and says "see you soon" when the customers depart instead of the required "goodbye."
His joyous demeanor and smiling face is a constant frustration for his family.
He is not supposed to be skipping or singing with cheerful abandon; he is supposed to be properly mournful and dejected.
He is not supposed to be convincing customers that they are beautiful; he is supposed to be selling them blocks of cement to chain to their leg for when they jump into a river to drown themselves.
Despite years of admonishments, Alan's exuberant personality cannot be dimmed.
He compliments his mother's cooking, tells his sister that she is lovely and helps his brother find his artistic calling.
Happiness proves to be quite stealthy as Alan's jubilation slowly infects the entire Tuvache family, one by one.
"The Suicide Shop" by Jean Teule is a comically macabre tale with a twist.
The creative suicidal products sold at the shop are as entertaining as young Alan's exploits to save people from themselves.
We cannot help but laugh along as Alan sneaks the cyanide candies out of the jar and replaces them with pure sugar - to the horror of his father and exasperation of his mother.
After generations of Tuvaches who thought they were meant to sell death, Alan shows them that a life filled with joy is a lot more fun.
But don't despair; there is no fluffy ending to this promisingly gloomy tale.
Alan's story ends with a twist as lethal as the Suicide Shop's poisoned apples - a final sweet surprise, rotten to the core.
Kat Duncan is the photo and video editor at the Advocate. She loves to read, travel, run and play with her pup, Panda. Chat with her about books on twitter @KatDuncan_VA.