Newly released in Kindle by Static Age Books, Stirring the Sheets is a meditative and thought-provoking book and another in an increasingly impressive collection of works from the criminally underread Chad Lutzke.
Emmett is a widower in his seventies, still working a full-time job as a funeral worker. Having recently lost his wife of almost fifty years to a traffic accident, Emmett is struggling with depression, unable to move on with his life.
When a new body is brought into the funeral home, Emmett is shocked at the resemblance to his late wife, as he remembers her as a young woman. In a moment of weakness, he decides to bring the body home with him, but will this help him with his problems, or create a whole new set of them?
The first thing you should know about Stirring the Sheets is that, despite the content, this is no extreme horror book. It is a quiet and meditative story about a man dealing with a loss and, while the circumstances in this book take a darkly outlandish turn, Lutzke’s focus here is on Emmett’s journey from despair to acceptance.
Emmett shuns any kind of human connection over guilt at the thought of moving on, yet is clearly not coping with being alone. For a story about the theft of a corpse, the real horror at work here is how trapped the protagonist is in a self-perpetuating cycle of sorrow as a result of a loved one being taken from them in an unexpected and violent way, and how easily he is able to mask all this from those around him.
The scenes where Emmett is preparing bodies at the funeral home are presented in a clinical, matter of fact manner, which becomes an eerie precursor for later in the story when Emmett makes the decision to take the body home with him. Despite this being such an unconscionable act and not one which the book takes any pains to justify or rationalize, Emmett is presented as a deeply sympathetic character, acting out of all too relatable pain and desperation. It is not the act itself which is the focus of the story, but rather what has happened to drive its lead to the point where they feel compelled to do it, and how they react once the act itself is done. Much like Lutzke’s equally impactful Of Foster Homes and Flies it uses a terrible act to dive deep into the mind of somebody attempting to deal with something unthinkable.
If you can get past the subject matter, underneath is a tale about grief, simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting, that will take the reader through an array of emotions in less than 100 pages that few can manage at novel length. There is no other horror writer working today who can move so seamlessly between lifting your spirits and breaking you without mercy and Stirring the Sheets is another example of Chad Lutzke demonstrating a mastery of his craft.
Stirring the Sheets by Chad Lutzke
An elderly funeral home worker, struggling with the loss of his wife, finds an unnatural attraction to a corpse at work resembling his late bride in her younger years.
DescriptionAn elderly funeral home worker, struggling with the loss of his wife, finds an unnatural attraction to a corpse at work resembling his late bride in her younger years. A story of desperation, loneliness, and letting go.