Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Suicide Collectors

David Oppegaard
The Suicide Collectors

St. Martin’s Press, 2008

After the Despair killed almost the entire population of the United States, in a small town in Florida only Norman and Pops survive. At the beginning of the novel Norman’s wife kills herself, and when the Siucide Collectors come for her body, Norman does what no one before him did: he kills with shotgun one of the collectors.
Having lost the last close person, Norman ponders the fact that situation like this can not continue more. During the five-year epidemic people stopped to see a purpose to his life and made - one by one - suicide. Mysterious Collectors has always appeared for their dead bodies and somewhere took away the dead. Remembering that one crazy man get to their town news about the scientist in Seattle, who works on a cure against the virus, Norman offers Pops to fly to Seattle on an old airplane. The old man had nothing to lose, just as Norman, and they decide to take on a dangerous flight. Fly to Seattle does not work, the plane breaks down, so that the rest of the way Norman, Pops and a girl with the name Zero goes on the ground.

In this novel there is a very good beginning and a very good end, all that is in the middle turned out not so well. Beginning, with scenes of rural life, with shocking scene of murder of the Collector, an evening drink of Norman and Pops, aptly reveals the state of the loneliness of those who are still alive and do not attempt a siucide. Norman, protecting the body of his dead wife, looks not like a superhero, but like an ordinary man who has recently been taken away all he got. Oppegaard chosen the narrator with a success. The novel is written from a third view, and the author does not allow us to look deeply into head of Norman. Something that becomes clear from his recallections, some from the phrases and actions, but in the rest of Norman - an enigma, and for himself as well.

The middle part sags: too much of cliche action, making the novel begins to seem like a novelization of the comic book. All along the way to Seattle villains are one-dimensional, their actions (and actions by Norman and co) are predictable, there is no tension, the chapters all the more boring and more boring, because you know that Norman would get up to Seattle.

The mystery of origin of Collectors, too, seems not very original, in general, even tortured, but in the end Oppegaard turn everything upside down. Before that «The Suicide Collectors» reads like dystopia mixed with horror, then in the end the novel resets all genre labels and beacons, becoming an incredibly powerful journey into the heart of darkness, when a man with essentially hollow inside is in an infinitely long tunnel full of darkness and a same emptiness. In the darkness, you forget who you are and where you are. In emptiness you see something you have never seen before.

After the death there is always a birth, and David Oppegaard managed to write about this not ideal, but a fascinating novel.

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