The Suicide Shop – Jean Teulé

Has your life been a failure? Let’s make your death a success.

I have never read a book like The Suicide Shop.

 
The world created by Teulé is unique, the story itself is told in such a darkly comical way but the poignant history – the cause of the personal grief felt by the inhabitants of the pages – is not lost on the reader.

The story centres around the Tuvache family who, in a future close to apocalypse, run a shop that prides itself in stocking a vast array of equipment to help its customers commit suicide, offering helpful advise to help those undecided on a means. This morose and melancholy family are committed to their work, shuffling along their personal mortal coil. Their view on life echo’s that of everyone else populating the novella, everyone except Alan, the youngest of the Tuvache family. Alan is essentially the “white sheep”, a ray of sunshine and happiness in the dark sullen world he inhabits. Initially his outlook is detested by his family members who try to suppress it, but it soon starts to leave its mark inside each of them, as well as in the shop and beyond.

I won’t give away any more of the story away as no one likes spoilers. The Suicide Shop is a brilliantly written book, offbeat and dripping with dark humour. While only a short book it gives you as a reader a lot to think about, I am generally a very pessimistic person but I found Alan’s optimism almost as contagious as his family did.

Hilariously witty throughout with incredible visuals, if you are ever in need of a short book to make you laugh, lift your spirits and that is individual in it’s premise – I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

For anyone interested there is also an animated film written and directed by Patrice Leconte based on this book which I enjoyed, even though some parts are very different to the book, as one expects with film adaptations, this does not take away from the overall enjoyment. I will say, the film is in French with English subtitles. I am just advising of this as I know that some people don’t particularly like subtitled films.

Please comment below is you have any book suggestions in the dark comedy genre 🙂

Favourite quotes and passages from The Suicide Shop:

Come on, settle down for some nightmares. That’s more sensible.
 
The circular goggles over her eyes and the bulky filtration cartridge in front of her mouth made her look like an angry fly.
 
On the walkways, among the smells of frying chips and the poisonous mushrooms we would sell, tears would trickle softly down the customers’ cheeks.
 
 The hesitant customer gazes around the shop with eyes made weary by the doleful regret she feels for her faded dreams.
 
“Go on, get lost! We don’t need customers like you here.”
“But I want to die.”
“Sort out your own mess. Go to the tobacconist’s shop!”
 
Through the cellar’s barred window, he hears the sounds of heels on the pavement above. Hemmed in by this monotonous hammering, it sounds as it someone is nailing down a coffin somewhere.

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