Review: ‘Suicide Supper Club’ by Rhett DeVane

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suicidesupperclub“Life is crap and the weather is stupid-hot: reasons enough for four small-town Southern women to plan ‘the easy way out,’” the publisher’s description for Suicide Supper Club informs us. Rhett DeVane (“Cathead Crazy”) brings her trademark sparkling prose and deep insights into human nature to this story of the darkness and light in the lives of Abby, Loiscell, Sheila and “Choo-choo.”

Truth be told, the light is in short supply.

The lives of these kindred spirits play out in the Florida Panhandle between Chattahoochee, a small town with a main street dominated by a mental institution, and Tallahassee, the state capital, 44 miles away. Most of the festering family secrets, declining health, estrangement and physical abuse live and breathe in Chattahoochee for Abby, Loiscell, Sheila and Choo-choo. Tallahassee is for shopping, fine dining, cancer treatments and a prospective appointment with a hit man.

Suicide and humor are usually mutually exclusive worlds. But they seamlessly merge through DeVane’s inventive plot, fully realized characters, knowledge of Southern life and customs, and sense of place. Readers cannot help but feel the characters’ reactions to the darkness in their lives and, quite possibly, understand the rationale for a suicide supper club.

The light in Suicide Supper Club comes from the great love and esteem the four women have for each other and the ways they find for coping with the Florida heat and the crap. I grew up in the Florida panhandle, so it was easy for me to see near the beginning of this novel that when it comes to Chattahoochee and Tallahassee and the people who live there, Rhett DeVane gets it right.

You’ll see that, too, long before you reach the last page and learn whether or not Abby, Loiscell, Sheila and Choo-choo are still among the living.

Malcolm

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