Read in 2016
Friday, September 9, 2011
BOOK: Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward
Some books just hit your funny bone and this is one of them. The premise is that Lisa Lutz, author of the Spellman Files, wanted to team-write a murder mystery. She asked her former boyfriend, poet David Hayward, to write the alternating chapters, with some pre-agreed upon guidelines. The actual story (not the best part, I'll get to that in a moment) is that a dead body appears on the grow-op farm of an orphaned brother and sister, two aimless twenty-somethings. They can't call the police to their farm, so they get rid of the body. Which then reappears on their farm.
Lisa writes the first chapter and then sends it off to David, with an email note, which he responds to. Then he writes the second chapter, introducing new characters and taking the story in different directions. Rather quickly, the team approach failed. Although they decide that they won't focus their own narratives on the sister-by-Lisa and brother-by-David, it happened pretty quickly. Each author developed the characters differently, and as more murders piled up, one characters killed by the other author, and then brought back to life by the originating author, and then definitely killed by the first, the snarking and sniping back and forth in the emails became the fun part. The story existed only for Lisa and David to disagree about what they are going to do. (Who gets to write the last chapter? Flip a coin - hence the title, which also works on another level as the first murder is a beheading.)
How contrived you find the emails back and forth will determine your enjoyment of the story. I couldn't wait to see what the Lisa would say to David about what she wrote to 'fix' his part of the story, or how he would respond to the killing of his favorite character - he invents an cousin who looks the same. I don't think you can take the actual murder as a story in itself. It was only there to demonstrate the animosity of the authors, which I also imagine was the plan in the first place. It comes together a little too perfectly to imagine that they didn't plan the whole thing. Didn't lessen my enjoyment of the whole thing at all. However, I read reviews at librarything where the reviewer didn't like the email part at all. I don't know how you could read this book without recognizing that the story goes the way it does only because of the notes between the authors.
Fun, fun read with a unique approach.
also reviewed: raych at books i done read; suziqoregon at whimpulsive; jenn at devourer of books;