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Lepers and Mannequins Paperback – November 12, 2011
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Well tear off my arm and call me a frickin' nubby! There's a war going on, but it ain't about oil. Oh heck no, there's something more important on the minds of the lepers, and it's BODY PARTS. Who's got all the parts? The mankins do.
You know, mankins! Normally, they're hanging out in clothing stores modelling the latest fashions, but these ones spend their days migrating from lodge to lodge in an effort to stay one step ahead of their decaying hunters.
Lepers think mankins should be subservient to them. Mankins think lepers are barbaric savages. No leper would ever think of getting involved with a mankin and vice-versa... UH-OH!!! What the bleep do those two think they're doing! If this gets out, there's gonna be a price to pay. Better sneak off into the woods and keep your rendezvous a well kept secret.
Look, Mr. One Arm, your buddies are also falling apart and they're gonna need new parts eventually. It's only a matter of time before they go after your mankin lover and blow the living poop out of her. So what's it gonna be? I hope for both your sakes you're prepared to do what you feel is right.
Quall and Jaundice are too naive for their own good, methinks. They're treating their problems too simply because what they feel is simple: Love.
Quall is a questioner, a trait common to those staring death in the face every day. He has allowed himself to become intimate with the enemy, and it's caused him to see things in a new light. Why bother, he wonders. In the end, all the body parts in the world won't stop their disease.
Jaundice wants to be human. She wants breasts with nipples that can move around, not the hard, blank plastic mounds like her fellow mannequins. She wants this because she feels less than perfect. She feels less than perfect because, to her, Quall is perfect.
On Quall's side of the fence, you find a group that is all about survival. All his friends are getting excited because the colony is gearing up for another raid on the mannequin's village. They take their cues from Farmer, an older leper who's literally on his last foot. Helping spur a sense of pride in them is Autocrates. He runs a theater that puts on plays to encourage the lepers, but Quall only sees them as propaganda.
Jaundice has her mother but also her best friend Clarice to lean on for support. Her mother repeatedly tries to convince her that being with Quall is ultimately a bad thing, that he only wants her for her parts. She believes otherwise, but is still unsure of how much she should trust him.
I found it humorous that the only characters who seemed to have a decent grasp on things were the ones who sensed their world the least. They are the soldier class of mannequins, born deaf and blind, who must feel out their world and communicate with each other by tapping on each others palms. When the lepers go on the hunt they are forced by the elder mannequins, who are the same age as everyone else, to go out and face them.
Mr. Beeny has written a strange book. No, I am not trying to be facetious. It flows in a stylized language, is bursting with similes, and playfully teases you with its narrative point of view. There is a repetition going on in the words. A series of miniature revelations that unfold the subtext of what's really happening in the world of lepers and mannequins. It makes you think twice about certain passages as you read it, it makes you want to go back and read it again.
I cannot shake the idea that if all these characters were put in a room together and forced to talk it out, they would discover they have more in common than they are led to believe. Like loss. The mannequins understand loss just as well as the lepers. Jaundice cannot seem to keep track of her possessions, and it stresses her to no end.
Terrible as it may sound, I don't ever want one side to win. If the lepers destroy every last one of the mannequins, they will eventually run out of parts and everyone dies. If the mannequins outlast the lepers, they will feel useless in an eternally raining world. It is a balancing act they are entrenched in, one where both human and plastic human need each other to continue the cycle of life.
The book is about a Leper and a Mannequin who fall in love. Their relationship is very problematic. In this world, Lepers hunt mannequins and harvest their body parts. The situation is kinda tense. The Lepers and the mannequins hate each other. Still, the two lovers are determined to be together.
This book is unsettling, but in a fun way. There's this one sex scene that had me feeling weird. Leper/Mannequin sex is just as complicated as you would imagine.
I loved this book. It's clever. At one point I had to call up my buddy Gorcoff and tell him about the origins of the Mannequins. "That's super clever," he said. "It's like something you would see on the twilight zone."
I can't tell YOU what the origin is though. I don't want to spoil the surprise. Surprises are fun. This book is fun. Go on now, go. Go get this book.
I don't want to even discuss the story itself because of the delicate way all of the information is given. In drops, and just enough to sate you for the moment.
The characters in this story are likely to walk as shadows in my dreams for some time to come.
I greatly look forward to the next novel by this author.
Yeah, I may be risking my man card on this but my favorite bizarro stories seem to be the love stories. This one is a bizarro retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Only Romeo is a leper and Juliet is a mannequin.
Eric Beeny's writing is quite good, very good, in fact, considering this is his first novel. The story flowed very naturally and without any of those telltale first novel jitters.
Honestly, there isn't a lot more to tell. This is Capulets vs. Montagues all over again. You know, except for pieces falling off of the main characters. Well worth a couple hours reading.