cover image The Deaths of Henry King

The Deaths of Henry King

Jesse Ball, Brian Evenson, and Lilli Carré. Uncivilized (Consortium, dist.), $19.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-941250-20-4

Cats have nothing on the many lives of Henry King, who dies on almost every page of this twisted collaboration. Ball (A Cure for Suicide), winner of the Paris Review George Plimpton Prize, and Evenson (Windeye) both possess a dark humor that fits perfectly with Carré’s bold illustrations. These 89 tiny tales of the protagonist’s recurring demise pack quite a punch. From the moment Henry wakes “with a hammer partway through his head,” he can’t catch a break, as he is resurrected again and again only to suffer the most mundane, magnificent, and absurd of deaths. In the space of a few sentences, he freezes to death outside his front door, is ripped apart by a pack of dogs, felled by Viagra, and whipped to death by a satyr after being transported into a piece of artwork. This unique experience of the macabre blends in plenty of humor; indeed, readers will laugh at Henry as he watches himself get beaten to death, perish trying to scream in space, be eaten by a bear, or focus so hard on avoiding an open manhole that he gets hit by a car. While death is a daunting inevitability for humans, Henry’s many deaths are an undeniable pleasure for the reader. (Oct.)