What’s I Am An Executioner all about?:
The title story in this collection is about a newly wed executioner who isn’t exactly living in “marital bliss” after his new wife learns of what he does for a living.
What did I think?:
Another weird and wonderful story from Rajesh Parameswaran, another thumbs up from me! The collection is titled I Am An Executioner: Love Stories, and if you’ve read my previous three reviews on this collection, you’ll probably get that it’s not the lovey-dovey, fluttering eyelids, happy ending sort of love that the author explores. Oh no. In fact, some of the stories explore a darker form of love which can be quite disturbing, unique or just plain crazy! The characters themselves all have flaws or could be termed “anti-heroes,” and especially in the case of this story, I don’t think we are even meant to like our main protagonist. Our narrator for this tale is an executioner working with convicted criminals on Death Row and is oddly proud of what he does for employment. When the story begins, our executioner is newly wed but when his wife finds out exactly what he does, she is furious, disgusted and believes she has been tricked into the marriage. It probably doesn’t help that the two met on a dating website, and the executioner was a bit liberal with the truth regarding his looks, height, personality etc. As the first few weeks of their marriage passes by, it is obvious that there is no honeymoon period for this couple. The wife remains cold, distant, refuses to allow her husband into the same bed with her and further along seems to exist in a state of extreme depression where she does not wash or change clothes but lies in bed all day, adamant that her husband must not touch her.
The executioner himself is a highly complex and intriguing character. I’ve already mentioned the sense of pride the executioner has in terminating the lives of the Death Row inmates but what is even odder is that he wants to be-friend every prisoner prior to their execution. We are told that he has been evaluated by a psychiatrist as being “deeply disturbed,” and that he has been married before however there was an incident involving his first wife that remains unexplained. When a young girl is admitted to the Row, he goes through his usual procedures of trying to make friends, but becomes angry when she refuses his friendly advances. This, coupled with his new wife also refusing to come near him, leads him feeling extremely frustrated. She does appear to thaw when the executioner tells her about the young girl and even visits her at the prison and is present on her execution day. However, the sentence of hanging has been changed to something unimaginable which our executioner takes in his stride, of course and, as a result, it seems as if their marriage is destined to be doomed.
Once again, the author provides a fascinating story about a different kind of love with a narrator so terrible yet so readable that I couldn’t put it down until the dramatic finale. The executioner – what a character! He gave me chills down my spine and the serious heebie-jeebies but I kept lapping it up, wanting more. I also loved the author’s use of language with the voice of the executioner, a sort of stilted, pidgin English that might be distracting for some readers but I thought it was very effective. Each story in this collection so far has been so remarkably different with its own unique twist that I find it hard to believe that this is a debut collection. Beautifully weird, this is definitely an author to watch out for and I’m really excited about the rest of the collection.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT SHORT STORY: A Day In The Life Of Half Of Rumpelstilskin by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky