By Daniel K.
by Corey Redekop
ECW Press, 2012
From life to death, Husk tells the story of a man who goes from run-down actor to zombie-superstar.
Written by Corey Redekop, Husk lets us in on the personal and professional life of a zombie actor: what he does with his time, how he copes, and what roles he plays in his decaying state. Redekop is a Fredericton man, who seems to have a difficult time finding his calling in life, but at the moment is trying his hands at being an author/librarian/publicist. Corey Redekop has written only one other book so far, entitled Shelf Monkey, but has plans to write more.
The protagonist of Husk is Sheldon Funk, who leads us through this wonderful tale of carnage and just happens to be a zombie. Before his zombie-ism, Sheldon was an actor as well, but not all that great at it. However, his return from the dead made him skyrocket to the top and giving him roles in all sorts of movies, ironically most of those being about zombies. Sarcastic, Canadian, and homosexual, Sheldon’s story certainly isn’t by any means normal, but what fun would it be if it were? He is kept in check by his agent, Rowan O’Shea, who is almost the picture-perfect example of what an actor’s agent should be; hard, determined, and all about making more money. She keeps Sheldon in the acting business even after his untimely death. Try and find an agent who can do that.
Another important character in the novel is Dr. Rhodes. A famous plastic surgeon in the field of celebrities, Dr. Rhodes is here to make sure Sheldon can keep on acting through the very end and well into his afterlife. While he specializes in plastic surgery, Dr. Rhodes seems to have more background in the way the body works, rather than merely specializing in giving people face-lifts.
The novel is narrated through the now scratched and glazed-over eyes of our main character, Sheldon Funk. Everything that happens has some sort of sarcastic or humorous look on his life, including his death and reanimation. No matter how grim or vulgar things get, he always manages to find time to throw in a joke, sarcastic remark, or bleak comparison.
The novel begins with our protagonist waking up after a rough night in a morgue and interrupting his own autopsy. Sheldon Funk (who cannot remember his own name) wakes while two morticians work away at sawing off his ribcage. One of them goes to grab a coffee, and Sheldon thinks that this is a good time to have his first meal as one of the dead. After dinner, Sheldon escapes the makeshift restaurant, and manages to find his way home, where he is reunited with his cat Sofa and his boyfriend, whom he promptly devours. He does not do this out of malice, but purely for his carnal instinct to feed. After teaching himself how to breathe and speak again, he talks with his agent, Rowan O’Shea, about his gig in the morning. He takes this time to attempt sleep, but cannot reach the state of rest, as his body no longer has any use for it. Morning comes; he tries out for his audition, makes people vomit with the sound of his voice, and gets the role as the main antagonist and zombie.
Sheldon Funk (after death) is a zombie homosexual. The homosexual community gets enough trouble from people as it is, but now he is a zombie. With his condition, Sheldon is made almost into an entire different race than humans, bringing the discrimination to an extreme. Sheldon is very open about whom he is as a homosexual, and that does some good for him with certain people, and Redekop does a wonderful job writing him, as he would any other character that has a developing romance. This book slyly teaches us how other people, despite their appearances and preferences, are more or less the same as us, and still very much human.
Sheldon also puts his trust into other people’s hands, and is or is not rewarded for his risk. As a member of the living impaired, scientists around the globe want him for research, people want autographs, etc. The book tells us that we have to be careful where we place our trusts, and that we may find alliances unthought-of through blind trust.
Corey Redekop is a sarcastic author, with extremely dry and corny humor scattered throughout the entire book. His style is unlike anything before, using dramatic stops as a common occurrence, even where it may not be overly dramatic, just for the sake of a joke or just to tease the reader. The book follows no real chapter-based format, but rather has sections dedicated to Sheldon’s major emotion during that section of the book. For example, page twenty-nine of the book is the start of the next section labeled “Denial”, where he is mostly in denial of his own state and existence. The following page starts with him right before dying, and then dying, and then going back to the present.
Corey Redekop has certainly made an oddball of a book. Husk is full of gruesome scenarios and imagery, unintelligent language, explicit descriptions, and yet is still very intelligent and smart. Every sentence makes sense (or eventually does) and works for the situation, as well as poking fun at the sheer ridiculousness of the fact that a zombie is still able to act and function in society. Redekop has made a story where the sheer insanity of the situation makes it understandable and interesting, as well as being able to be sad, depressing, and hilarious, sometimes all at the same time. Like other books, Husk also makes use of pop cultural events and trends, but does so by making grim comparisons or poking fun at them. Husk is a book that may be hard to read, but is also nearly impossible to put down, and is one of the most rewarding stories of 2012.