Sunday, January 25, 2009

“The Third Dead Body” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Author: Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Title: “The Third Dead Body”
Anthology: "The Living Dead" [Title Post]
Position: 6
Length: 16 pages

Author Info: Nina Kiriki Hoffman is the author of several novels, including the Bram Stoker Award-winning The Thread That Binds the Bones, A Fistful of Sky, A Stir of Bones, Spirits That Walk in Shadow, and Catalyst, which was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award. Her short fiction has appeared in such magazines as Weird Tales, Realms of Fantasy, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and in numerous anthologies, such as Firebirds, The Coyote Road, and Redshift. Her work has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the Nebula Award four times each.

Sheila wakes up one night, naked and numb, in a rural spot outside Seattle only to discover that she is a bit dead. She sets out to find Richie, the one to end her life, but not because of revenge, but curse laid by her grandmother demands Sheila to love the one thing that hurts her most. Along the way she hikes a ride from Marti, traveling to see her daughter’s show. As soon as Marti of Sheila’s predicament, a fact that has her running through the forest initially; she takes the dead girl’s problems to heart and tries to resolve them. An interesting ending enfolds.

Favorite Snip:
Her eyes were wide, her broad face pale under her tan.
“You need help,” she said.
“Hospital? Police?”
“Seattle,” I said.
“Medical attention!”
“Won’t help me now.” I shrugged.
“You could get infections, die from septicemia or something. I have a first aid kit in the car. At least let me—”
“What would help me,” I said, “is a mirror.”

“The Living Dead” as an anthology so far has covered violent deaths, bloodbaths and the perversions of the human mind. Everything has been wrapped up metaphorically in a bow and aims to present a very unpleasant mirror and reflection of our own spirit. Despite the fact that “The Third Dead Body” deals with a different predator, the serial killer, the feature that sets the story apart from all the rest is its sense of humor.

Hoffman does the impossible for me, raises a victim from the grave and through life’s irony to lace her journey with some pretty good jokes. First of all it is striking how the living undead are portrayed more like a conscious fabrication of Southern magic with the terminology and such as for instance the mentioning of goofer dust, which is the dirt surrounding a dead corpse, rumored to have some kind of power. And again out of context for zombies Sheila is incredibly normal and rational for a zombie. The situations she falls in while trying to deal with her new life after death involve some funny moments and throughout the most part, it’s still light hearted.

But as the poet has said “Many a true word is spoken in jest” and that is the general rule, which Hoffman uses to try and scratch the surface of a killer’s psyche and the trauma of a victim. As I view it this is the best approach for such a topic, since among from the interesting and outlandish reincarnation of the zombie in this piece and the jokes, the reader can catch a whiff off something deeper.

The human being is amazing in his complexity and identifies himself in various ways. One can use different roles in society and in life. Another through the periods in life and Hoffman chooses names. Sheila is an intertwined trinity of what she had been, was not so long ago and never had the chance to be. Mary Jefferson was the girl, which suffered after speaking for herself and Tawanda Foote was the woman, who had to work on the streets without any real power in her life, whilst Sheila is the strong woman, she always wanted to be. As the story progresses the reader sees the struggles and debates Sheila goes through to battle the curse, which is branded in hers and possibly in the heart of every victim’s heart, and break the psyche of being a victim and then go against her aggressor.

As a conclusion I do have to say that this is very well executed and entertaining to no end with an interesting moral as much as people don’t like taking advices.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails