Publication Date: December 1, 2013
In How to be Dead by Dave Turner, Dave Marwood is pretending he has a life. He goes to work, pines for his co-worker, goes home and … repeats. His life is the same, day after same day. When Dave has a near Death experience, Death offers him a job and a way out of his day-to-day life. Will Dave continue on his path of stagnant existence or go where few men had gone before and lived to tell the tale?
Readers of this blog will know that I am a fangirl literature that manages to be intelligent while maintaining a somewhat out-there-level of humor.
How to be Dead by Dave Turner fills that niche perfectly. The novel is funny, insightful and reminiscent of the work of the late Douglas Adams. There is nothing beyond making How to be Dead longer that Turner could have done to make the novel better.
Dave Marwood is a great character. For a lot of people doing nothing is the easiest way to live, but Dave works hard at his apathy. We see in the novel a character that is willing to think of others before himself even in the most extreme situations. He is a guy who is living and feeling despite his efforts to the contrary. Dave has seen ghosts since he was a small child, and he seems comfortable and at peace with them — they seem rather stubbornly married to their earthly existence contrary to what other popular fiction might tell us. Dave is ideally situated to fill the job that Death proposes to him.
Death is an interesting guy. The way that Turner layers this immortal character is fascinating. Death is petulant. The human body is simply a meat puppet for the soul. They are silly and useless and yet he seems to care about making Dave understand his point of view. He needs that contact. Death is horribly busy but lives in time as though the eras are rooms in a house so that his hectic pace never ends. Death has had to distance himself from his friends and their ill-advised choices (Famine once took a wife!) so that he is only about work and chocolate biscuits. He is not infallible. As Turner says early in the novel, “Some days you are Godzilla. Other days you are Tokyo” (Kindle Location 63).
Mostly in How to be Dead, I loved the layering of truths and interlacing of humor. The style of writing speaks to Turner’s writing experience in the smooth flow and easy spirit of the characters. The ghost that Dave meets on the subway is quite happy to continue riding the train. He says that it makes him feels as though he’s alive which gives this spirit a contentment that is unique to the genre. That Dave isn’t the guy to push a subject to suit himself leaves this reader eagerly anticipating where this series will go next. The introduction of Death and his assistant, the lacing of masterful hyperbole in the narrative, Dave and his grand epiphanies speaks to a creative skill to be envied. I cannot emphasize enough how much I loved this novel.
I started reading it early in the week but soon realized that this was a novel to be savored in a delicious feast so held back despite the temptation to finish reading on a Saturday under a blanket with a dog and cup of coffee nearby and it is an experience I long to have again soon. So rarely does a novel with this perfect blend of humor, insight and perfectly written prose come along. Turner has a follow-up to this novel coming soon and I eagerly look forward to the day it is released. I know people who take days off of work for book releases and while I would never to do so, but it is tempting.
If you like the work of Douglas Adams, Jasper Fforde or Ford Forkum, How to be Dead by Dave Turner is a perfect novel for you. Read an excerpt and buy on