Welcome back to the bookclub! In August, we read The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay for The You’ll Read Too Bookclub! If you wish to access all of the latest updates/information, click here. Spoilers ahead!
Quick Reminder: This month we are reading ‘Penpal’ by Dathan Auerbach!
Today I’m going to discuss the book in the same way I normally do my Instagram videos. You can find the recorded talk on my bookclub Instagram page. I’ll give a quick plot summary plus my overall star/scare-factor ratings. Then I will share the discussion topics and trivia questions. Please include all of your answers and opinions down below. I want to know exactly what you thought. I’ll also leave the answers to the trivia questions at the very bottom of the post, so if you wish to guess without being spoiled, do not scroll to the end until you’re ready. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
THE PALLBEARERS CLUB by PAUL TREMBLAY – AUGUST 2022
1988 – Art Barbara is a painfully awkward teenager. Worse, he has no extra credits to get him into college. Thus, Art starts the Pallbearers’ Club, mourning for people with no one else to bury them, which introduces him to Mercy Brown. Mercy is into bands, local history and taking photos of the dead.
Decades later, Art writes his memoir to try and make sense of it all, because nothing about Mercy is simple. Their friendship twists and coils, captured in Polaroid snapshots and sweaty gigs and inexplicable flashes of the parasite lurking in a folded jacket at night.
Because Art is writing, Mercy is reading and she thinks Art’s novel needs some work. What if Art didn’t get everything right?
OVERALL STAR RATING
I gave this book a low score of 2/5 stars. I did not enjoy it. If it wasn’t a bookclub pick, I probably would have DFN’d it. Compared to Tremblay’s brilliant novel: A Head Full Of Ghosts, this story was a big flop. I liked how it was formatted, with the amusing annotations and Mercy’s notes at the end of each chapter. However, the plot itself was bland. There was no chemistry between the two characters and Art’s narration came across as very self-loathing and pretentious. Furthermore, it was quite confusing. I’m still unsure about the ending. I thought the actual club, The Pallbearers Club, would be a bigger part but it tapered off quickly. I wish it had been more interesting. Alas, it was not.
OVERALL SCARE-FACTOR RATING
I gave this a scare-factor rating of 1/5 stars. To add to the criticisms above, this book was devoid of horror elements. Tremblay attempted to unsettle readers by writing a scene where Mercy’s jacket appears to have a face but it made no sense. I was so disappointed because I thought a story surrounding funeral homes would ooze with terror but it didn’t. You’re meant to believe that Mercy is a vampire but like I said earlier, I couldn’t tell you if she was or not. It just wasn’t clear.
1.) Before you reached the end, whose narrative did you trust more? Art’s or Mercy’s? Why?
I definitely trusted Mercy’s narrative more than Art’s. He embellished a LOT. He also consumed exorbitant amounts of pain medication and alcohol, which impaired his re-telling of events. Because he was so unreliable early on, I found myself ignoring most of his words, which was also a detriment to the book’s overall rating. I wanted more Mercy.
2.) What was the jacket scene all about? How did you interpret what Art saw?
Art claims to have seen Mercy’s jacket moving around with a face in the material. However, Mercy tells him that he was very high on marijuana that evening. Aside from his drug-induced haze, I believe he was searching for a paranormal explanation to Mercy. He was convinced she was a vampire, sucking the life out of him, hence his health issues. Again, I couldn’t tell you if it was real or not.
3.) Did The Pallbearers Club seem like a nice idea? Would you attend a funeral for somebody you didn’t know?
I must admit, I liked the idea of The Pallbearers Club. I thought it a good deed – attending funerals for those that had nobody to mourn for them. I would absolutely do it. I wish we had been given more of that storyline.
Easy: What is Mercy’s real name?
Medium: Name one of the bands Art played in.
Hard: Who was the first funeral The Pallbearers Club members attended?
I hope you enjoyed the book club discussion in this post and on Instagram. As mentioned above, share all of your thoughts in the comments below! If you have any feedback/suggestions to improve the bookclub, please let me know. I look forward to talking to you all next month! Thanks for reading!
Peace & Love xoxo
TRIVIA ANSWERS: Easy: Mary. Medium: The Macedonians, The Brent Underwoods, A Manuel, Can, Clean, Com Rad, Carrot Sauce, House Hill etc. Hard: Kathleen Blanchet.