BOOK REVIEW: THE DRIVE-THRU CREMATORIUM by Jon Bassoff
Review copy provided courtesy of the author.
Stanley works in a loan office and he lives in a bland suburb with his wife. One day, his coworkers don't recognize him, his wife is having an affair, a serial killer is terrorizing the town, and Stanley discovers the Drive-Thru Crematorium.
Whenever I see a book described as Lynchian and/or Kafkaesque I immediately want to read it, and this book is one of the most deserving of those associations. There's surreal suburbia, doubles, paranoia, and transformation filled with dream logic and strange humor. I love stories that don't explain themselves to me and allow me to just experience them, and while I'm sure I didn't "get" all the symbolism (I've said before, and it bears repeating--I'm a grade A hack) I found it fascinating nonetheless, and couldn't put it down.
Stanley is the pretty standard white collar doormat we've seen before, but as his world becomes increasingly odd--and putting him in stranger and stranger situations--Stanley himself undergoes a transformation that unleashes something within him. While I did guess the 'what' of a big plot point, the 'how' was a complete surprise that kept me on my toes (and in my place). The main source of my enjoyment was something incredibly basic--Stanley's reactions to the absurdity he finds him in. He reacts to things as if they are completely normal and sane which enhances the surrealism of it all, and gave it the weird comedy that made it impossible to put down (I was seriously late to dinner with my grandparents because I had to keep reading).
If you like bizarro, or horror with a strong dash of weird and, and especially if you're a fan of Kafka and Lynch, The Drive-Thru Crematorium is a nightmarish must read. This was my first read from Bassoff, and it certainly won't be my last!