Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.
Death is getting tired. Disguised as someone often invisible to society, an elderly, working class black woman, she seeks out someone to unburden her conscience to. She uses a desk to connect to a young writer, Wolf, who is no stranger to death.
Mrs Death Misses Death is blend of poetry and prose, all on the subject of death, the regret, injustice, forgiveness, acceptance, relief, the whole complicated mess of feeling attached with the end of life. It takes the form of Death’s memoir of sorts, with Wolf writing it on her behalf, being told tales of deaths from the past.
I’ve often wondered how very different this living life would be if we were born with our expiry dates stamped on our foreheads. Imagine that. Imagine if we were like pints of milk with our best-before dates on our foreheads. I mean, if we knew exactly how long and how little time we have to love each other, maybe then we would all be more kind and loving.
Wolf lost his mother in a high-rise fire, one that has echos of the Grenfell tragedy even if left unnamed. From his loss, Death takes him to others who have been forgotten, and those who would be better off forgotten, to heroes mourned by many.
It’s a book without much in the way of plot. There is a little of Wolf dealing with his mental health, but it’s not a conventional story, much more of an exploration. Salena is playful with words, her background as a poet shining through. Some chapters are poems, some are tales of those Mrs Death has visited, some are real people. One or two felt more like essays than fiction, but fitting in their inclusion.
Temporicide: a good word. It means to kill time. I roll the word around my mouth. I imagine killing Time once and for all. Can Death kill Time?
It’s a sombre start to my reading year, and for some a book dwelling on death might not be what they need right now. But it may also help you reflect on the loss of the past few years. There are six pages left blank at the end of the book for you to write down the deaths that were not included, your own personal tragedies or heroes you lost.
Mrs Death Misses Death is published by Canongate and will be published on 28th January 2021 in hardback, ebook and audio editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Around the Year in 52 Books: 4. A book with a monochromatic cover
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