What I drank: I went full chichi and cracked opened a bottle of red wine from a boutique Virginia vineyard. Class and elegance.
Full disclosure that the author reached out to us and asked us to review this book. He sent us the novel in exchange for a free and honest review. Big thank you to David Grad. And from the synopsis, I was down:
Synopsis, from Goodreads: “In this introspective and darkly entertaining novel about coming face to face with your own mental health, a man finds himself caught in a passive aggressive battle against routine, complacency, and the white-collar way of life. Worn down from dodging small talk, dealing with an idiot boss, and drying out under fluorescent lights, he pursues relief in the isolation of stairwells and cheap thrills from bruising his colleague’s bananas. When a threatening post-it note pulls him from routine into chaos, he finds himself forced to take an existential look at life. What follows is an awkward, painful, and unexpected pursuit of meaning and happiness in the face of routine through therapy, medication, and wisdom from the unlikeliest of sources.”
Having read it, here is my synopsis: An attempt at adult Holden Caufield being dropped into Office Space, with notes of American Psycho.
– protag has some mental health issues
– lots of internal monologue
– wild disdain for others while wanting their approval
– shitty job and shitty boss, with most of the plot taking place in the office or with coworkers (that’s your Office Space bit)
I think I get what the author was trying to do…but I think it missed the mark.
I spent a LOT of time trying to figure out if the protag was unhappy or just disconnected from everyone. I’m not saying they can’t both be true, but often it felt it was one or the other, not two things woven together to form a larger picture. Sometimes it came off that he just didn’t “get” people and was okay with it?
For a character that’s spends SO MUCH time in his head with self-reflection, we know SO LITTLE about him. We know next to nothing about his background and what got him to this point. We know next to nothing about any other characters, they literally only exist to further the protag’s journey, and only sort of.
Now, I should mention that the author does have a background in counseling psychology, so he knows what he talks about, to the point that a lot of the therapy sessions read like a psychology textbook. It’s just not literary.
so at some point the protag has to start seeing a counselor and starts taking anti-anxiety meds, and he struggles with that. This I absolutely understand. And he sticks with the counseling and starts taking the meds, and he starts feeling more positive, which is great. But I’m kind of confused when viewing that with the title of the book–so we ARE saying happiness is just a pill away? That’s fine, but then I’m not sure why this book is a satire, when it could have been a solid journey of self-care and mental health exploration.
Also, the major events of this book kick off because the protag gets a note that someone might kill him and everyone in the office AND NEVER TELLS ANYONE WHAT THE NOTE ACTUALLY SAYS? We can call him socially awkward all we want but EVERYONE EVER would share the content of the note if they wanted to be believed.
It’s a quick read, so if you think I’m off base, take it for a whirl, but I stand by my review. I give it 2/5 stars
What I would pair it with: in the words of the protag, something strong to get the job done. Scotch?