cover image The Pallbearers Club

The Pallbearers Club

Paul Tremblay. Morrow, $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-306991-6

“I am not Art Barbara,” declares the narrator of this ambitious, metafictional pseudo-vampire thriller set in 2007 from Tremblay (Survivor Song), but he adds he’ll be calling himself that throughout the memoir that follows. In 1988, Art began the Pallbearers Club in high school in Beverly, Mass., to serve as attendants at funerals that would otherwise be without mourners. One member of Art’s club is the pseudonymous Mercy Brown, named by Art after a late 19th-century New England vampire. Mercy contributes to the “manuscript” that is this book, sniping at Art’s characterizations of her and appending extended remarks to each chapter. Art, an unsuccessful musician who’s constantly doubting himself, comes to believe that Mercy is a vampire, subtly leeching life from him, and that he’s a vampire as well. Eventually, Art has recurring sightings and visions of jackets with faces draining the life from victims. Tremblay has a way with words (“Time is not linear but a deck of cards that is continuously shuffled”), and Mercy’s snarky commentary contrasts nicely with Art’s often maudlin narrative. This one will find a certain readership, but its overall oddness will keep it niche. Agent: Stephen Barbara, InkWell Management. (July)