High school reunions can be hell. But when you throw in racial and sexual tensions, extramarital affairs, and cannibalistic, undead vegetarians, it's hell times infinity.
Brash, clever, and monstrously funny, Venous Hum charts the lives of Lai Fun Kugelheim and Stefanja Dumanowski, best friends who, upon hearing the news of an old high school acquaintance's death, are gripped by an insatiable nostalgia and organize a twenty-year reunion. What initially seemed like a simple task becomes increasingly complicated for Lai Fun, but the past is nothing compared to her messy present: her marriage to a successful businesswoman is crumbling, she's having an affair with a man (who happens to be Stefanja's husband), and her oddly supernatural mother--an immigrant vegetarian with an unusual appetite--only wants her daughter to be happy. But in the wake of such chaos, the only constant is the hum of the blood coursing through her veins.
A satire on race, gender, sexual preference, and vegetarianism, this is a magic-realist novel that will throw your assumptions of the world and the people who inhabit it out the window. It's the exclamation mark at the end of the sentence that announces the end of CanLit as we know it, and the beginning of something entirely new.
About the author
Shortlisted for the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT FictionShortlisted for the Alberta Literary Award for Best FictionLonglisted for the Giller PrizeA seventeen-year-old boy, bullied and heartbroken, hangs himself. And although he felt terribly alone, his suicide changes everyone around him. His parents are devastated. His secret boyfriend's girlfriend is relieved. His unicorn- and virginity-obsessed classmate, Faraday, is shattered; she wishes she had made friends with him that time she sold him an Iced Cappuccino at Tim Hortons. His English teacher, mid-divorce and mid-menopause, wishes she could remember the dead student's name, that she could care more about her students than her ex's new girlfriend. Who happens to be her cousin. The school guidance counsellor, Walter, feels guilty - maybe he should have made an effort when the kid asked for help. Max, the principal, is worried about how it will reflect on the very Catholic school. And Walter, who's been secretly in a relationship with Max for years, thinks that's a little callous. He’s also tired of Max's obsession with some sci-fi show on TV. And Max wishes Walter would lose some weight and remember to use a coaster. And then Max meets a drag queen named Crêpe Suzette. And everything changes. Monoceros is a masterpiece of the tragicomic; by exploring the effects of a suicide on characters outside the immediate circle, Mayr offers a dazzlingly original look at the ripple effects - both poignant and funny - of a tragedy. A tender, bold work.
Never fails to impress. Brash, macabre and irreverent. . . .
... a funny, insightful, sexy, intelligent horror novel with memorable characters that never takes itself too seriously. And it's written by an Albertan. Now that's spooky.
Mayr sutures the plot veolicty of a genre book together with literary language and politics, creating a Frankenstein's monster of a novel, one with more elegance and brains than you'd expect.
...Venous Hum never fails to impress. Brash, macabre and irreverent, it's the kind of story you want to hear from a later day Scherazade: So intoxicating you crave more.
Suzette Mayr's third novel, Venous Hum (Arsenal Press) ratchets up the already nailbiting drama of a high-school reunion with racial and sexual tensions, extramatrial affairs, and cannibalistic, undead vegetarians.
...Venous Hum rises above the crowd for the potency of the trauma and the sheer mania of the horror.
...Suzette Mayr's latest novel weaves an outrageously comical yet surreal tale of broken hearts, burning hearts, and hearts for dinner.
-Quill & Quire
Quill & Quire
-Globe and Mail
Globe & Mail
Venous Hum, an almost unpronouncable title by Suzette Mayr, is an exciting experience from beginning to end. One of the funniest, most entertaining works of fiction on the 2004 list, this is a bold and often outrageous work about girls going wild.
-University of Toronto Quarterly
University of Toronto Quarterly
In Venous Hum, Alberta author Suzette Mayr tuns the horror of high school reunions into genuine comic horror. Mayr is a very funny satirist...
Mayr is half-German, half-Afro-Caribbean, a lesbian, all-Canadian, and a brilliant author.
-The Chronicle Herald
And if you're tired of the same old, same old, and looking for a novel that takes on vegetarianism, race and gender issues and the dreaded high school reunion with a bit of supernatural tossed in, then Venous Hum by Suzette Mayr is definitely the book-of-the-month for you. Mayr's contempoary referneces are acute, her characters lifelike and their personal dramas fiercely comical.
But Venous Hum is far from hackneyed genre fiction- these are characters I would have happily stayed with for another 1000 pages, the dialogue sparkles like Salinger....