Culture

A horror novel hidden in an IKEA-like catalog

Horrorstör doesn't look like a traditional horror novel, but it promises a chilling look at what it's like to be a modern worker.

The IKEA catalog is full of affordable and useful items with unpronounceable names. Even if you're a fan of the Swedish furniture company, I bet you've never heard of the Bodavest, "boasting several advantages over traditional forms of restraint," or the Jodlopp, "giving your skull and neck the weight they need to bow into a permanent attitude of submission."

That's because these handy dandy home goods are made-up items featured in "Horrorstör: A Novel," a new ghost story told on the pages of what looks like an IKEA catalog.

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You'll find more than the usual towel bars and tables in this spooky "furniture catalog."Quirk Books

The tale takes place in an Orsk store, a stand-in for the Swedish flat-pack pioneers described by author Grady Hendrix as "the all-American furniture superstore in Scandinavian drag." The plot sees dastardly happenings in the store each night like "broken Kjerring wardrobes, shattered Brooka glassware, and vandalized Liripip sofa beds," according to the book description on Amazon.

To unravel the mystery, five employees agree to get locked inside the store overnight and, as you might imagine, the usual horror fest ensues -- which apparently has something to do with the store being built on a site with a dodgy history. While the plotline might not be entirely new, the format certainly is. The book is trimmed to look like a furniture catalog and even features an order form, coupons and instructions for shopping. There are also periodic full-page product illustrations punctuating the prose (which is typeset as a normal novel) for items such as the Bodavest and Jodlopp.

"Coming up with the furniture in Horrorstör was like eating candy," Hendrix told publisher Quirk Books in an interview featured on Boing Boing. "Some of the pieces were things I want to own, like the Frånjk, which is basically my ideal dining room table. Others, like the Tossur treadmill desk, were things I wanted to make fun of. And all the 'augmented' furniture that serves a correctional purpose -- the Jodlöpp, the Ingalutt, the Kraanjk -- are based on real devices used in 19th-century prisons."

Hendrix, a writer and journalist who was one of the founders of the New York Asian Film Festival, said he was inspired to write the book when his editor mentioned wanting to see a haunted house story set in a furniture superstore.

"The fact that stores like Orsk are full of endless aisles of bathroom displays, fully equipped kitchens, and fake bedrooms makes them feel like the mutant offspring of a house and a labyrinth," he said in the interview with Quirk. "Add to that the idea that these stores don't want shoppers to think of them as stores but as 'third spaces' (not work, not home, but someplace else), where you can spend hours relaxing, sitting on the furniture, eating in the cafe, and just generally hanging out. Roll that all together and you've got the perfect setting for a haunted house."

In researching the book, Hendrix told Quirk he interviewed oodles of IKEA employees and spent about a week pretty much living in a Florida IKEA store.

"I must have walked 15 miles through that store, ate a dozen meals there, and spent hours just wandering around," he said. "Then, to cap things off, a little poking around online yields an avalanche of IKEA materials: annual reports, efficiency studies, handbooks, manifestos. I bathed in that stuff."

I've always been kind of creeped out by IKEA stores anyway. Thoughts of escape seem futile once you grab that big blue bag and start along the path through all those fake rooms. So I'll definitely be getting this book which, in addition to being a good ole fashioned ghost story also features "sly social commentary on the nature of work in the new twenty-first century economy."

If you want to do the same, you can preorder it now on Amazon so that you can have it in your hands as close to the September 23 release date as possible. Not only does it look like it'll be a pretty fun read, it will also let you contemplate purchasing a Ingalutt, which will help you "submit to the panic, fear and helplessness of drowning, with death just a distant dream."

(Via Boing Boing)