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Odd little macabre novella
on August 3, 2003
The Loved One is an odd little story about a love triangle among people who are unusually comfortable handling dead things. Dennis, a poet/pet mortician, is not entirely forthcoming about his occupation with Aimée Thanatogenos lest she, as a beautician of human cadavers, despise him for it. Aimée, for her part, is torn between her attraction to Dennis and her respect for Mr. Joyboy, who is what passes for a stud among morticians. Joyboy courts Aimée by manipulating into smiles the faces of the corpses he works on that are headed for her cubicle.
Waugh's macabre novella pokes fun at the ceremonial nonsense with which we shroud death, packaging that manages to render the inevitable obscene. It's amusing, if not a "wickedly funny" satire as promised in the blurbs, and would perhaps be more successfully humorous on film.
Reviewed by Debra Hamel, author of Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece