Wednesday, May 6, 2009

“The Garbage Man”, (Bloody Books), by Joseph D'Lacey

In a follow-up to his visceral and socially aware debut “Meat”, Joseph D'Lacey has crafted another fine tale that utilizes the trappings of horror and suspense to deliver a socially conscious message, this time one that touches us all: Mother Earth and the environment. Though of a different tone than Meat, “Garbage Man” is a thriller that should make everyone think twice about what we dump into our precious soil.

Mason Brand is a disillusioned celebrity photographer weary of society's ills, tired also of making his fame off of them. After retreating from society for a time, Brand comes into contact with an elderly couple that lives close to the earth. They teach him how to commune more deeply with the natural world humans take for granted, and Brand begins to sense a new purpose for his life. Healed but still scarred, he eventually re-emerges from his isolation, though he remains on the fringe, leading a solitary life next to the Shreve District County Landfill.

Soon, Brand becomes convinced that Mother Earth is whispering secrets to him, secrets he's not ready to hear or accept. Something grows in the fetid stews of sewage simmering beneath the landfill, and when an evolutionary leap brings new life to Brand's doorstep – something born of man's refuse – he believes a breathtaking new future is in store for mankind. As Brand nurtures this new life, however, he realizes with dim horror that in this new future, man is the ultimate recyclable, meant to be consumed and reused.

Though it seeks to provoke thought about the important topic of pollution, “Garbage Man's” narration is different than “Meat” - quicker, more adventure-laden. The novel's denouement is a fast-paced race for survival, rather than a treatise of pollution's ills. Also, there are more likable, three-dimensional characters here, folks readers can root for, people who might actually live down the street from us. As important a novel as its predecessor, “Garbage Man” delivers a vital message spiced with mass-market appeal.

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