Written by: Matt Molgaard
Is The ABCs of Death a novel? No, it’s not. It’s not an anthology of short stories either. What it is, is a collection of poetry that plays with an alphabetic theme. Why am I even covering this, you ask? Because it’s ultra-entertaining, that’s why! Zack Carlson has managed to craft some highly entertaining pieces of poetry, and Stephan Britt’s illustrations are delightfully nasty. Though you’ll swarm through this one in under five minutes (if you’re not taking the time to appreciate the aesthetics), you’re not likely to forget it in the same time frame. It just sticks to you.
Having not yet seen the film (for those that don’t know, ABCs of Death is also an anthology flick featuring the work of 26 talented filmmakers, including Kaare Andrews, Xavier Gens, Noboru Iguchi, Ti West, Ben Wheatley and Adam Wingard) I can draw zero comparisons between the two mediums. However, this is a really fun, engaging read. The introduction of the book recommends we screen the film before reading the book, but it’s certainly not mandatory. I couldn’t wait, personally, and I don’t feel slighted, or confused having not yet checked out the picture; this is an extremely satisfying collection that works all on its own.
Britt’s artistic style is a perfect match for the content, and speaking of content, Carlson really delivers in spots. Letters A, E, F, I, , J, K, L, S and W are particularly grand offerings, fusing witty quips and magnetic visuals. S completely jumps off the page, and K will leave you in stitches after a frightful fit of laughter. This is a mesmerizing collection that fails in only one area: the physical size of the book. At 9″x13.5″, the damned thing just doesn’t fit anywhere. I can’t squeeze it into my bookshelves and it’s big enough to look a little gaudy just lying around. Somehow that still feels like a minor deterrent. The ABCs of Death is too good to pass up, whether it has a comfortable home in the bookcase or not.
Uniquely riveting and completely engaging, this isn’t one to skip. However, therein rests the problem: the book saw a limited release of 666 copies, which means time is really cramped. If you sit back and count your laurels, you’re likely to see this offering slip right by. As of the writing of this brief article, the book still looks to be available. However, I’m holding number 263 of 666, and there’s simply no telling how many of the remaining 403 are still up for grabs. If you aim to own this one, buy it ASAP, right here.