Lucy Biederman’s newest project The Walmart Book of the Dead has been called “fearsome,” “extraordinary,” and “inventive.” In a work that Biederman calls experimental, she puts together a collection of spells that are meant to remind the reader of the Egyptian Book of the Dead—but in this collection, the tomb is a Walmart.
Greeting readers is the phrase: “To be read by those who go forth by night in the gods’ domain, 2017.” The spells, incantations, and illustrations are written for, and to, the insomniacs and consumers of the twilight hours. Opening the pages of this spell-book is like opening the doors to the supercenter; you’ll feel as if you're traversing the deserted, tomb-like aisles yourself.
“Spell to Enter Through the Gates of Night” is the opening entry. It paints a desolate picture and exemplifies the ‘every man for himself’ attitude that is necessary for those moving through the aisles of the underworld: “‘I didn’t know who I was until I got high,’ one of them told him. Though he, himself, wasn’t comfortable speaking so openly, he believed he knew exactly what she meant.”
There’s one employee, or, protector, of the inhabitants of the superstore. He’s the man behind the “Spell for Hopefulness in the God’s Domain.” He allows the wanderers to reside in the parking lot of the underworld where they live in their cars, and he turns a blind eye to their actions.
The spell-book calls roll in spell 14: “ROLL of Gods.” The shopper at a bookstore, soldier in Iraq, biologist, photographer, maintenance man of the apartment complex, reporter, and Uber driver are all called upon. The gods of our world—you must pay your homage.
“To know the Names of Those Who Are at the Seven Gates of the God’s Domain, Their Guardians and Announcers” details the gatekeepers of the underworld. The entries explain the ways in which one can pass through the gates, be they crockpots, Facebook, money, or climate change.
The Walmart Book of the Dead is an experiment in form, prose, and style—and it absolutely succeeds. Lucy Biederman has wound together a charming, modern day Book of the Dead that comments on all things important and interesting. Walking the aisles of Biederman’s imagination is an absolute treat; it’s no surprise that this little book of experimental fiction has made waves since its conception.