This review contains mild spoilers.
Oliver is a writer who’s just moved cities. He doesn’t have any friends yet; he can’t get his surly flatmate, Mark, to crack a smile; and the only people who talk to him are the odd assortment of characters at the KeepCup warehouse where he works, plugging lids into cups in an endless cycle.
His hours consist of daydreams: sweet, touching reveries of driving down the freeway with the girl of his dreams, and outlandish fantasies of bursting through the roof at bedroom store Snooze.
Oliver is lonely. For the most part, he is sleepwalking through life. At nights, he begins to write memories of growing up in pre-9/11 America, as he finds himself thinking of his childhood in Texas. But when he meets up with Lisa, the girl he’s been writing to on Facebook, things begin to change.
Can I just … not? I didn’t enjoy anything about this book. In the author’s near-constant state of daydreaming, he builds a fantasy life for himself where everyone around him is insufferably stupid so that his own mediocre wit can shine. I say ‘mediocre’ because he gives examples of his proposed witticisms and they’re something at which I might smile pityingly but I certainly wouldn’t walk away thinking, ‘Wow, this guy is amazing.’
Also, everything is sexual. Everything from pouring sauce on a pie to watching a random man eat a Snickers bar. Damn, so sexy. I can barely contain myself.
There are so many times when the author recognises that he’s being a shitty human being and thinks he should stop, yet he never does. I know this is basically a memoir (with some fictionalisations) but I don’t see the point in writing a memoir when you are exactly the same person from start to finish and you’ve done nothing except get a new girlfriend and realise that you’re being a total dick to your brother.
I also have an issue with the messages that the author tries to shove into the book. Before the narrative starts, he writes:
I wanted to write about Australia as it is today. I wanted privileged Australians such as myself to think about their privilege, to reflect on how shit things can be for other people.
At no point did the writing make me think about other people’s lives. If anything, it made me think that the author should probably stop obsessing about himself and think about those things.
At another point, he says that this novel is a love letter to his brother—a way to express his appreciation. And, look, maybe the author has a special kind of relationship with his brother but I cannot imagine writing a book and describing in detail my sexual fantasies or the different ways and places I have sex with my new partner and then giving it to one of my siblings and saying, ‘This is all for you, man. I appreciate you.’
I really dislike being told how to frame a book (in several different ways) and finding out that it’s a lie. This book is a personal reflection. The author does admit that he’s selfish and vain and that certainly comes across in the way he continually dismisses other people’s problems or lives. Plus there’s the picture of his bare butt at the back of the book. Who sits there and thinks, ‘You know what would make this book so much better? A photo of my bare arse’?
I didn’t enjoy anything about this book. It tries to be many different things but in the end it simply comes across as self-involved and monotonous. Nothing changed, nothing grew, and I didn’t care for the author/narrator. I’m glad this was only a library book and not a purchase I made on a whim.
I rate it ★