Title: The Extra Large Medium
Author: Helen Slavin
Genre: Paranormal Women’s Fiction
Length: 288 pgs
Summary: Annie always thought chocolate brown was the new black, because everyone was wearing it. It didn’t take long for her to realize that no one else saw these people wearing all-brown outfits, and that these people happened to be dead. As a grown-up, Annie begins to treat her habit of finishing the ghostly “unfinished business” as a job; it is when her husband disappears and doesn’t return to her, wearing brown, telling her his unfinished business, that things become seriously wrong.
pg 1 – In Hell they all wear evening gowns. Heavily boned bodices. Dress-shirt collars just that bit too tight. Your forehead just that bit too sweaty and the perspiration running like an itching, infuriating river down from your armpit into the elastic of your knickers. The point where it pinches your waistband.
pg 36 – Funny how the words for the male member all smack of stupidity. ‘Member’ for a start off, some idiot politician. John Thomas, who no doubt plays a banjo in Tennessee. Todger, the thick dog who can never find where you’ve thrown the stick. Dick, the man who wears the most hideous golf sweaters at the local links. Cock, a strutting brainless bird puffed up with his own importance and getting around ALL the birds. Donger, a dwarf breed of conger eel. Prick, so quick you hardly notice and before you turn your head it’s all over.
pg 46 – Most of the young men, and a couple of the older ones I picked out, seemed only interested in one thing. They made small talk, ate dinner or pretended to listen to your boring recollections from your day at work because they felt that this would work some miracle on the elastic of your knickers. They didn’t want you. They wanted sex. Conversation was just some boring form-filling requirement that had to be gone through to get to the sex. No one seemed any good at it either.
pg 47 – For a brief time at the university I was known as the Ice Maiden because I was notoriously hard work on a date. Then I discovered the Ice Maiden Sweepstake. The bet was on as to who could crack the Ice Maiden. ‘Crack’. It was their word. I would have preferred ‘thaw’: you melt the ice with the heat of your passion. But no. They would have a ‘crack’ at it.
Why should you read this book?
If you think perhaps this book has a theme similar to The Sixth Sense, that’s what I thought too. Except instead of being a thriller of sorts, this book is insightful and humorous, with a succinct tone that doesn’t forgive any character and yet makes you feel for them nonetheless. At its heart, this book is about a woman who loses her husband and waits, against her will, for the day she has to legally declare him dead.
For you writers, read this book to learn how to write about a topic (like death) without depressing the reader. Every character is flush and real, people we can relate to or have had a conversation with. Annie is a great anti-hero, as well; she is flawed, can’t seem to hold on to material objects or the people around her, and yet is crying out for someone to ground her from her ethereal calling. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and read it in one evening, I couldn’t put it down.