I like to think I have a pretty strong stomach. I can handle a lot. I read “Mr. Torso”, I got through the dumplings in The City, and even handled a cheese grater to the vagina in Mother’s Boys. But I finally met my match. Was Dead Inside my first DFN-book?
Before you read this review any further, allow me to loosely quote Chandler Morrison, “This is your damn trigger warning!” Read on at your own risk...
I actually finished Dead Inside, and guess what, I enjoyed it. I just had to skip over a few parts. Why? Well, first, let’s give an overview:
Morrison has written a creepy, over-the-top love story between two of the most socially-outcasted types of people possible. Oh, if you don’t want spoilers, you should stop now.
Our narrator, who remains nameless, is a night security guard at a hospital. He is sarcastic, has plenty of money from an inheritance, and just happens to enjoy necrophilia. Empathy is not his strong point and he’s probably a sociopath—psychopath? I forget the differences. Needless to say, the guy’s a bit cuckoo. Necrophilia aside, he cannot relate to humans on any level. He loathes the idea of being normal and the very thought of having to interact with live humans makes him ill.
On one of his night visits to the hospital’s morgue, he walks in on Helen, a maternity ward doctor, having a midnight snack. Like the narrator, Helen too has a unique taste in the taboo. She enjoys eating dead babies. Now, I should mention that I was able to handle the passages of Helen chowing down on baby meat. Don't get me wrong, it’s gross, but Morrison doesn’t describe how the babies died, they don’t scream in pain while she eats, they’re just dead. It’s like an overly gross zombie scene.
Where I did lose it however, was with the scenario which might be the most sad and disturbing thing I have come across. How is that possible when I read Lee's "The Dritiphilist"? Well, the whole snot/phlegm eating is just gross. Makes you gag a little--okay, gag a lot. But what happens with DEAD INSIDE is depraved….
Let’s just say that the narrator decides to play with Helen’s choice of food. You should be able to figure it out from there. Does that act ruin this book? I don’t think so. For some readers it might. There are going to be women and men out there who can’t handle it. I’m one of those women. However, I won’t discount the whole book. I immediately skipped the two parts that made me super uncomfortable, and can appreciate the tragic love story and social commentary here.
One can never know what an author intends, but perhaps the narrator is nameless so that the reader will identify more with him. It will speak to that small part of you which is an apathetic monster, who lives only for selfish pleasure. What’s more selfish than loving the dead? You get off and don’t have to do anything for the other person.
All humans have the potential to be selfish like that. But it must be miserable for people who identify more with the narrator than the rest of humanity. I’m not talking about the necro part, of course. That’s obviously a satirical exaggeration for effect. But it’s got to be painful to feel like a total outsider. A small part of you wants and needs social interaction, but the greater part of you rejects it.
DEAD INSIDE by Chandler Morrison will either make you think or gross you out—or both! Either way, it’s totally worth a read.
My parting thought. For people who are necrophiliacs, what leads to that? Like, it could be argued that society conditions a majority of men to be attracted to younger women, through ads like Dos Equis—most interesting man in the world—and with actresses in popular movies.
Is there something that leads to being attracted to the dead? Or something that leads to wanting to eat… ya know
Until next time, learn more about Chandler’s books here