I’ve always been a fan of postcards. I love to travel, and ever since I was young I’ve enjoyed picking up postcards when I visit a new place. I also ask friends to send me postcards when they go on vacation. In the past couple of years, I’ve taken this hobby to new heights, joining the website Postcrossing and exchanging cards with people around the world. I’ve received over 100 cards through the website and I still get a thrill every time one arrives in my mail box. So I was naturally drawn to the title of this book, Postcards from a Dead Girl, by Kirk Farber. Adding to my delight of finding a fiction book that even mentions postcards was the fact that there is something spooky about it– perfect for this time of year, don’t you think?

The main character, Sid, has been receiving postcards from exotic locations from his old girlfriend. The catch is that she’s either deceased or missing- Sid is not clear on this for the majority of the novel. Sid, understandably, gets more and more upset about receiving these postcards, until they turn into an obsession for him and he decides to try to get to the bottom of the mystery in various ways, including befriending a postal worker in his neighborhood and traveling to some of the places the postcards have come from. Along the way, though, we begin to realize that Sid isn’t the most reliable narrator, and he has a myriad of quirks and what some might call flaws. He allows his obsession to run him into deep credit card debt, and he loses all motivation to work at his telemarketing job– which I can definitely relate to, working as a temp in a call center myself these days.

We also see that things in Sid’s life are not what they at first appear to be. The character of the postman is especially symbolic of this, evident both by Sid’s surprise at seeing him not in his postal uniform and in that he has an underground bomb-shelter-cum-library. Sid also begins to slide down the deep end as he becomes obsessed with digging a mudbath spa for himself in his back yard.

The book reads like an independent film. It’s chopped into many very short chapters, which has the effect of presenting Sid’s life and the plot in snippets that can be at time disorienting. It’s a perfect strategy for this strange tale, and just adds to the mystery of the postcards and the deeper, darker elements of Sid’s life that lie beneath the surface plot. Comments about mental illness and institutionalization flicker in Sid’s commentary more and more, particularly in his interactions with his sister. Sid’s past and the true significance of his old girlfriend are forcefully shoved in his and the reader’s face towards the closing of the novel, and you feel as though you’ve been shoved from a dark room into the blinding daylight and are told to just deal with it. The moment of revelation puts a jarring twist on the plot and makes you look back at the rest of the story in a new light. It’s been a while since I’ve read a story with a shock at the end, and though it wasn’t entirely unexpected in this book, I really enjoyed it and found it to be very fitting.

Bottom line: A quick read, but pretty darn good. I expect a movie to be made out of this. Well done.

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