A Trick I Learned From Dead Men by Kitty Alderidge

A Trick I Learned from Dead Men

Five words from the blurb: funeral home, death, mother, deaf, brother

A Trick I Learned From Dead Men is a short, but interesting book about two brothers – one of whom works at a funeral parlour. The brothers are adjusting to life on their own after the sudden death of their mother. Ned is deaf and his brother, Lee, struggles to look after him once he begins an apprenticeship at the local funeral home. The book beautifully portrays the strained relationship between two brothers and gives some (often gruesome) insights into the procedures that corpses undergo before being buried.

The writing style was chatty, but compelling:

The only times things get hairy is when we’ve got a rush on. No one’s fault, but it can get a bit brisk. I only saw Derek lose his grip once, not the whole gentleman, just the top half. I don’t like it when clients get a knock, especially the head. You feel bad, but it can happen when there’s a rush on.

I read the entire thing in a couple of sittings, but, despite the depressing subject matter, I found that I wasn’t emotionally affected by the story. I think this was because I wasn’t allowed to get inside Lee’s head and his light-hearted banter detracted from the pain of his circumstance. The story was too simple to impress me and lacked the emotional power to move me.

It was an interesting diversion, but it failed to have any real impact on me. Recommended to anyone who’d like to know what really goes on in a funeral home.


The thoughts of other bloggers:

Kitty has taken a taboo subject and achieved that fine balance, writing engagingly and openly, and with great sensitivity and humour about something most of us just don’t like to think or talk about. Dovegreyreader

There are no real high points, the book sort of ambles along a well written and well plotted plateau. Dog Ear Discs

It’s an accomplished piece of writing. But now I have reached the end I feel that I have met a character, read a simple story, and I wish that there could have been just a little more. Fleur Fisher in her World

10 replies on “A Trick I Learned From Dead Men by Kitty Alderidge”

I think I felt almost exactly the same as you about this one, Jackie – perfectly enjoyable and readable, but not in any way remarkable. I read it last July and whilst some scenes and characters from it are still fairly fresh in my mind it hasn’t left any lasting impression on me.
I read Aldridge’s ‘Cryers Hill’ a few years ago, and whilst that one was a bit more interesting in terms of what the author was attempting, it too was nothing special. I think she’s one of those authors (of which I can think of quite a few) whose books pass the time but which, if she never wrote anything else, would be out of print and forgotten within ten years.

David, Yes. Sounds as though we did have similar thoughts. I can’t imagine remembering much about it in a year’s time and I’m not inspired enough to want to try her other books. Hopefully her future books will have more impact.

Well, I guess it is a good start. Maybe the author will dig a little deeper in the next effort. I think there is promise if she can take a pretty depressing topic and manage to keep it light.

From reading your excerpt, I like the style. I can think of a couple of books I’ve read that had nice style (like Yannick Murphy’s The Call) but weren’t ultimately memorable or sticking. They often seem to be little books too. I don’t know if that works for or against them.

Christy, I’m afraid I haven’t read The Call so can’t compare the two, but agree ‘Dean Men’ has a wonderful style. Shame it fails to have a lasting impact. 🙁

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