Anthony Loxton leads a double life. On the one hand, he’s the undertaker of a funeral home in Kalk Bay, which is located outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. On the other hand, he moonlights as Tony the Fox, a guitarist who plays the clubs around town. As a mortician, he finds solace in the silence of the dead. As a musician, he avails himself to the attention and respite offered by the ladies who frequent music venues. His life starts to change when a one-night stand of Anthony’s turns up on the slab of his morgue.
Conseulo Roland’s literary fiction novel is a fine study in character. At the opening of the book, the reader meets the young Anthony. It soon becomes apparent his family is not an ordinary family. He is the product of three generations of undertakers. Anthony often talks to dead people or takes naps in coffins in order to steal time away from his cantankerous father and emotionally-broken mother.
He is such a lonely little boy. The author deftly reveals a portrait of a sad family and how it is sometimes easier to draw into one’s self than interact with the world and risk getting hurt. As the title hints, there is nothing morbid about Conseulo Roland’s The Good Cemetery Guide. Rather it is a story of finding one’s self, as well as a story of how Anthony/Tony finds himself.
In addition to writing a pleasingly quirky story, Roland undoubtedly possesses a deft ear for language. Her sentences are literally a joy to read. It’s evident the author can not only spin an interesting plot, she is adept at the craft of writing as an art form. Such beautiful sentences can enrapture some readers, or cause other readers to get bogged down in the intricacy of the prose. I, for the most part, remained enraptured from beginning to end.
Are you drawn to quirky stories?
A complimentary copy was provided by the author in exchange for this review. For more insight, read my Book Review Criteria.
Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2013.