Member Review

Cover Image: The Pallbearers Club

The Pallbearers Club

Pub Date:

Review by

Lucia P, Media/Journalist

The fun of a Paul Tremblay book is figuring out, bit by bit, exactly what kind of story you're reading. It's always SOMETHING - a ghost story, a demonic exorcism tale, an apocalypse narrative - and yet, it's also always... different. Unexpected. Because one of the many things Tremblay excels at is taking a well-worn trope or genre and then turning it, spinning it into something new.

The same is true of The Pallbearer's Club, which, it turns out, is a vampire story. But as we follow our protagonist, the pseudonymous Art Barbara, as he grows up in Massachusetts, finds a place in the punk scene of Providence, and drifts in and out of the orbit of his friend Mercy, becoming convinced that she's a variety of vampire in the process - we also come to realize that it's also a story about conformity, and nonconformity, and what we'll do - the lengths we'll go - to fit in somewhere, anywhere. To find our people.

And, crucially, it's a story where there are competing narratives: Art's, Mercy's, and - perhaps most importantly - what may have ACTUALLY happened, outside of Art's or Mercy's patently unreliable presentations of events. (I do love a good unreliable narrator, and here, we've got several.)

Fans of A Head Full of Ghosts will undoubtedly find much to love in this one. The form is unconventional, presented a memoir - Art's - that may or may not actually be a novel, and complicated by marginalia from Mercy. Tonally - and particularly when it comes to Mercy's commentary - there's a lot here that feels like it lives in the same kind of place as the blog entries in A Head Full of Ghosts. 

A Paul Tremblay book is like a Magic Eye image: There's always something else to see if you look at it the right way. And for that reason - among many, many others - The Pallbearer's Club is a joy to read.

Just prepared to be something of an emotional train wreck by the end of it.
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