They say that are an infinite number of realities out there. On at least one of them, then, it wouldn’t be hard to believe that Stephen King and Douglas Coupland had a love child. This book is proof of that. Horrorstör by Grady Kendrix is a modern day haunted house story, set in that most modern day of houses, the furniture super-store; in this story Orsk stands in for the Swedish furniture retailer IKEA. The story kicks off with Amy, a 22 year old retail worker arriving at the Orsk furniture super-store for her daily shift. The store has only been open for a few months, but already seems cursed. It is not long before Amy discovers that the store was built on the site of an 19th century work prison. Kendrix repeatedly uses the history of the place to draw parallels between the work done by the prisoners and the work done by today’s retail associates. While billed as a horror story, the tale really excels as a scathing indictment of the retail sales culture and those people who are trapped in it. Early on, we are told there are:
…two kind of jobs: those where you had to stand up, and those where you could sit down. If you were standing up, you were paid hourly. If you were sitting down, you were salaried.
Hendrix channels Douglas Coupland’s Generation X with his collection of mostly 20-something characters trapped in the employ of Orsk . The main protagonist, Amy, a recent transfer to this store, is unsure of her career path and hopes to transfer back out. Basil is a recently promoted deputy store manager who has embraced the Orsk way. Trinity just wants to make the next Paranormal Investigators TV show for A&E. Matt is just trying to impress Trinity. And Ruth Anne is a 40-something “lifer” at Orsk. The five of them find themselves trapped in Orsk overnight as all hell breaks out. The book chronicles that fateful night and the fallout from it.
The book itself is modeled after an IKEA catalog, complete with store map, order sheet, and faux product descriptions leading off each chapter. You will find yourself yearning to own the Drittsëkk (available in lime, flamingo, snow, and night), but fearing the Kraanjk (available in iron).
Horrorstör by Grady Kendrix (Quirk Books) is available September 23, 2014 at your local bookstore or on-line retailer. Retail price of $14.95.