“My casket shall be filled to the rim with 2005 Saint-Émilion,” the opening sentence of the novel “The Emancipating Death of a Boring Engineer” by the award-winning author and engineer Michel Bruneau, sets the stage for the unconventional journey that follows, searching for significant numbers, good wines, the meaning of life, love, and whether it is ever too late.
It is also the first line of the specific instructions for an engineer’s funeral. A funeral that nobody would attend, since that engineer had no friends or family, except for his ex-wife, who hadn’t heard of him for over a decade and who didn’t want to have anything to do with this sordid story. A story that would have her treasure hunt for junk, with a suicidal, pyromaniac kid in tow, while being courted by the shyest lawyer on earth, to assemble the pieces of a peculiar puzzle.
With its palette of quirky characters, imaginative developments, and unusual perspective on life and death, “The Emancipating Death of a Boring Engineer” is an inspirational journey that captivates, entertains, and provides food for thought to those of us who happen to know someone who might die someday (rare as it may be). And, because of the author’s particular background, it has a special appeal to engineer and engineers-to-be.
Michel Bruneau’s previous novel (“Shaken Allegiances”) won the 2010 Grand Prize Next Generation Book Award and received much acclaim. Bruneau’s blend of deadpan humor and keen eye for the nonsensical side of human nature underlie his original perspective on contemporary existence.