I received a free copy for my honest review.
About the Book:
The controlled and calm life of William Oaks is shattered when his parents die suddenly in a car crash. A reclusive paper conservator at a renowned Toronto museum, William must face the obsessions and denials that have formed him: delusional family history, religious fundamentalism, living with unhappy parents who are constantly bickering, forced starvation, secrets and get-rich-quick schemes. Memory and facts collide, threatening to derail his life and career as William feverishly prepares for an important exhibition on the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Ken Murray’s powerfully written debut novel, EULOGY (Tightrope Books) explores an unusual, Rapture-obsessed fundamentalist Christian family that places all of its hopes on catastrophic destruction. The only offspring of a sad marriage, William practices self-flagellation, since being disappointed with salvation was a damnable sin, and experiences tremendous self-doubt because of his upbringing. Murray writes, “When the timbers of your house are cemented with bullshit, you ignore the smell and hope for the bullshit to hold.” He hides in his lonely, quiet world away from other humans, but is it enough to survive his traumatic upbringing?
About the Author:
KEN MURRAY is a writer and teacher of creative writing. His work has also appeared in Prairie Fire,Globe and Mail, Mendacity Review, Brooklyn Rail, Ottawa Citizen, Canadian Business Magazine,Maclean’s, and has also been published by the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies (through the Random House of Canada Student Award in Writing). While earning his MFA at The New School, he also trained as a teaching artist with the Community Word Project and taught with Poets House. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the inaugural Marina Nemat Award and the Random House Award, and received an Emerging Artist’s Grant from the Toronto Arts Council. Originally from Vancouver, Murray grew up in Ottawa and has lived across Canada and in New York City. He now divides his time between Prince Edward County and Haliburton Ontario, and teaches at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies and Haliburton School of the Arts.
In my continuing efforts to read books outside of my usual genres I give you Eulogy – a slightly skewed family drama. William Oaks is the narrator of this story and he comes from a less than happy home. His mother is from a tiny town in Canada and his father’s ancestors are both fiction and reality. Mental health issues play a big role in the book throughout William’s paternal line.
William grows up in a house where his mother becomes obsessed with selling a weight loss product called Slender Nation. It’s all she will eat – well drink as it is a shake – and all she will allow the family to consume. Around the same time they find God at a church who thinks the Rapture is right around the corner. The combination is enough to ruin William’s childhood and he bides his time until he can escape but it has long lasting effects on his mental well being.
Eulogy is not an easy book to read since it deals with difficult issues but it is well written and very thought provoking. The characters are well defined and while you might not like them you find parts that are sympathetic. The ending truly caught me by surprise and I do love that in a book. It was a soft, subtle end and while unexpected it was totally appropriate once I really thought about it. This is definitely one of those books that would improve on a second reading.