Having read the three books of the St. Nils trilogy by Jim Krusoe, I notice that there is a fairly obvious theme that Krusoe has fun with: specifically death and how to overcome it.
First, here are the blurbs for these three novels:
There’s a disturbing secret in the basement of a strip mall yogurt parlor. Jonathan, the mostly clueless clerk who works there, just want to fix things once and for all, but beginning with an encounter at an animal shelter that leaves three dead, things don’t work out quite the way Jonathan intends … or do they? Beneath its picaresque surface, Girl Factory raises unsettling questions about storytelling, the nature of freedom, and the ubiquitous objectification of women.
When Theodore receives a postcard say8ing “I need to see you,” he initially ignores it — after all, it’s unsettling to open mail from one’s dead mother. But when another card arrives he can no longer put off the urgent meeting, and so Theodore travels treks to Cleveland to track his mother down. In this strange, thoughtful novel by Jim Krusoe, Theodore travels through the worlds of Uleene, a member of the all-girl biker club Satan’s Samaritans; rodent extermination, and sport fishing, all the while realizing that the line between life and death is remarkably fluid.
Bob has spent the past several years maintaining a successful upholstery business, but in between re-covering sofas he’s also been working in a sporadic fashion to build a machine that will communicate with the dead. Along these lines, he’s gotten more or less nowhere. Then two surprising things happen: He receives an important message from a dog, and next, his old girlfriend, Yvonne, re-enters his life, bringing with her a daughter named Dee Dee. It doesn’t take long from then on until really bad things happen, and suddenly the perfecting of the Communicator, as he calls his invention, becomes a necessity.
Picaresque is a very good description of the structure of Krusoe’s novels, although it might be a stretch to call Jonathan, Theodore, or Bob a picaro. The novels are fun, even when representing some weighty subjects, like death. You can see a progression in the three books where communication with persons on the other side of life take on several forms but apparently are possible. In the end there is even the suggestion that the dead themselves might find a path back to life.
For such simple entertainments, there is a lot to think about.
Jim Krusoe has a short bibliography but worth looking into:
- Blood Lake and Other Stories. 1999.
- Iceland. 2002.
- Girl Factory. 2008.
- Erased. 2009.
- Toward You. 2010.
- Parsifal. 2012.
The trilogy is available from Tin House Press and also iBooks at Apple iTunes.