BOOK | FICTION | SHORT STORIES
WE ALL DIE IN THE END by Elizabeth Merry
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
If Joyce, Faulkner, and Kafka were to collaborate…
The result would be Elizabeth Merry’s We All Die in the End.
Merry’s is some of the best writing I’ve read in a while. Like Faulkner, she creates a fictional world unto its own, Faulkner’s set as a struggling Mississippi town, Merry’s as a struggling seaside town in Ireland, both populated with struggling characters with thick dialects common to their region.
However, regarding dialect, where Faulkner reveals his characters’ through heavy (and at times disruptive) word alteration and accent marks, Merry reveals her characters’ distinctive brogue (seemingly) effortlessly and without hardly a notice through beautiful setting descriptions and strategic use of words uncommon to those not of her world.
The effect of her writing to me is powerful…
Merry’s nineteen interwoven stories, or scenes as identified in the book, often misled me into letting my guard down – getting me lost in the cold ocean spray or in the delectable odors stewing from the stove or in the broguish din of the local pub – lulling me into thinking all’s well (how could it not be in such a quaint little town with waves pounding the shore like a mesmerizing lullaby) until it slowly dawns upon me that all is not well in Merry’s little corner of the world. In fact, not until it’s too late do I realize that just about everything beneath the quaint veneer she has laid for us is in fact quite dark and bleak, and at times… quite deadly.
We All Die in the End has left me with a haunting literary hangover.
And for that, I am grateful…
For, as rare as it is, it is that exact aftereffect I yearn for in every book I read.