Nenia Campbell's Reviews > Editorial

Editorial by Arthur  Graham
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Mar 06, 14

bookshelves: first-reads
Read on May 30, 2012

oh man. i don't even...

this picture describes the contents of this book better than i ever could in mere words:

--but i'm going to try to use words anyway.

caveat lector

have you ever thought that florida looked a little phallic? that maybe those people who write those memoirs about overcoming adversity are lying? that you can turn anything into a metaphysical issue if you try hard enough (or little enough)? that if maybe books might decide one day that this is soviet russia and books will therefor devour YOU? and have you wondered what would happened if you tossed breakfast of champions, fear and loathing in las vegas, and choke into a magical blender? the answer to all those questions, and others like it, is this book.


now looking through the reviews, i noticed that this book has unanimously received 4- and 5-star reviews. looks like i'm the only one who decided to go one lower--and i'm being nice (i really debated between giving this book two or three stars, but the ending won me over a little). however, seeing as how i hated all the books i referred to in the first main paragraph, the fact that i liked this book at all is somewhat miraculous. but mr. graham has a very compelling style. he makes sense, even if his story does not. does that make sense? no? oh, well.


LOL JK. there isn't one. not one that can be described anyway, apart from, "there's a man, and some really crazy sh*t happened to him. i think he might be on acid. the end." proceed to next section.



this book is really really crass. however, once you get past all the inter-species sex and foul language, mr. graham has some really interesting points to make. here are two of my favorite passages. brackets signify my additions.


[some schmuck:] "but surely, master, you can at least give me some idea how long it might take me to reach enlightenment?"

at this the master becomes thoughtful, squinting his eyes and furrowing his brow in a manner that suggested true consideration. then, after a moment, he replies:

"oh, i'd say about ten years."

at this, the disciple was incredulous.

"ten years!" he cried, abandoning all pretenses of respect, "but i don't have that long to wait! what if i work extra hard?"

at this the master nearly let slip the tiniest suggestion of a grin.

"then..." he replied, looking from the disciple to the mountains in the distance, " will take twenty" (68-9).

the impression i got from this is that you can't buy enlightenment--in fact, trying to do so will only set you further back because it completely misses the point of buddhism, which is to transcend materialism and achieve true understanding of the universe and the wisdom it has to offer. it's one of the reasons i really love buddhism--and the koans are so fascinating...


"well, on a long enough timeline, concepts like choice and fate become irrelevant."

"how do you figure?"

"well, on a long enough timeline, all things can potentially come to pass."

"i'm not quite sure i believe that."

"what's not to believe?"

"just some things could never happen."

"but what if they're fated?"

"they're not necessarily."

"then what if they're chosen?"

"they needn't be."

"on a long enough timeline, all things may eventually come to pass, and this is what we call potential" (136-7).

there's definitely something of the metaphysics in this book.


i have three theories:

1. that the main character was sexually abused and, as a result, dissociated from reality in a schizophrenic split. all those scenarios, each different but with many of the same principles, are manifestations of the original trauma as his subconscious fears surface again and again.

(why yes, i am a psych major. how could you tell?)

2. the author (the actual author) is making fun of fraudulent memoirists who exaggerate or confabulate traumatic experiences or, worse, try to add another, more meaningful level of interpretation to their horrible experiences by using magic-realism and pretentious literary devices.

liar, liar, pants on fire!

3. the main character is actually a murderous psychopath who killed his aunt and uncle, his parents, his twin sister, some random people, and his editor, and this is the lesser evil of the 'choose-your-own evil' that you can choose to believe if you're a "happy endings"-type person (remember life of pi? (view spoiler) thought so.


this was very well-written. any longer and i think it might have been intolerable, so it's wonderful to see authors who know how to keep their stories short and sweet. there was a bit of the "random stuff! random stuff!" thing going on, but the ending kind of cinched it for me and made me go, "ahh, i see." i also liked the drawings. they amused me greatly, and were highly reminiscent of breakfast of champions (except funnier and more relevant to the book). not guffaw-funny, mind, more like, "hmm. very amusing. *evil villain smile*"-funny.

yet another image that could have come out of this book:

also, i think that the author likes the band "h.i.m." because there was a lyric from one of the songs towards the end. HEARTACHE EVERY MOMENT FTW.

i would have liked to see a readers' guide in the back that showed what the author was actually trying to say (and on the off-chance that mr. graham reads this, i hope he would be willing to tell me what the real meaning was, 'cause it's driving me crazy. i want to be write, dammit!) and what he was attempting to explain/prove by it. i'm all for unreliable narrators (it makes them more human, because we all confabulate a little a bit to make ourselves, the main characters in our own private little mini-dramas, as appealing as possible), but i also like to have little map pieces that i can assemble at the end to give me some idea of what's really going on.

so yeah, overall, i liked it. my brother is more into books like these than i am and he expressed an interest in borrowing (and reviewing it), as well. so how 'bout that? two reviews for the price of one. i think he did pretty well for himself by me. :)

two-point-five to three scratching-my-head-in-befuddlement stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. This in no way biased or shaped my reading or opinion of the book.
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