TITLE: ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL
AUTHOR: DECLAN BURKE
Wow! I know I’ve said it before, but this is most definitely a book unlike any I’ve read in the past. I’m not even sure if I will be able to describe the plot in a way that makes sense to those who haven’t read the book, but I will try.
An author, on a retreat to finish a book he is working on finds himself confronted by Billy Karlsson, a character from a previous, unfinished novel. In that story Billy is a hospital porter who occasionally helps people who wish to die, but finds himself in trouble when his girlfriend finds out. For five years now Billy’s story has been on hold and as a result, so has Billy’s life.
Now Billy is taken things into his own hands. He has meetings with his creator, offers to write parts of the story himself and introduces a massive twist to the old plot. Just killing sick old people who wish to die isn’t enough anymore. A bigger statement is needed and therefore Billy plans to blow up the hospital where he works.
As the author and his character start to work together on reviving the old story the question is; can the creator stop his creation from inflicting death and destruction, or is he somehow complicit in the planned attack.
This is a truly original story. The lines between the stories told by the author and those narrated by his character become ever more blurred as the drama unfolds. Who is leading who? Who is the actual creator and who is the one following along? What is real, and what is fiction? All questions the reader is faced with, and for a very long time there doesn’t appear to be any clear cut answers.
All the blurbs about this book describe it as being “laugh-out-loud funny”, “full of the blackest humour” and “outrageously funny”. I however, didn’t get the humour in this book. I found the story to be original, disturbing, thought-provoking and inventive. I also think the book would make a wonderful subject for a book club discussion since there are so many angles to this story. I just don’t think my Dutch sense of humour was up to this Irish form of black comedy.
I was thoroughly impressed by the writing style though, the use of words and themes in this story and the way in which the author kept me hooked to a story I wasn’t entirely sure I liked.
All in all a very intriguing reading experience.