Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Stumble Upon

When I was in San Diego last year we stumbled upon a truly incredible Italian restuarant. We weren't looking for an Italian restaurant, no one had recommended it, but when we sat down on their patio, and met our waiter we knew we were in for something incredible. The food was amazing, the service exemplary, the price was reasonable and the entire thing was the perfect experience. Pure serendipity. 

This is what has happened with We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman (here). I've only just started the book but already I can't stop reading it. It's fast paced, witty, light, and fun. It reminds me of a book I read many years ago which I also loved, Sellavision by Augusten Burroughs (here). 

What I love most about this novel so far is that there are times I'll be reading it and I will think, "wouldn't it be neat if he . . ." then the author does that very thing. Or worse I'll think, "Awe man! I should have thought of that and written that." Still, it's fun to read a book that speaks to you and that you just stumbled upon for no better reason than it happened to be free as a part of the Kindle Unlimited program. I don't read much comedy, I rarely find it that funny. Nice to see it done well here.

I love cataloging first lines as we all know, so it's nice to see Mr. Norman's offering. I've clipped almost the whole first page because I love the way it sets the scene.

It’s scary how many details I remember about the night Karen left. 

That’s the thing I hate most about my brain, the way it stores and catalogs things, all this dumb shit on a giant hard drive in my head, so I’m forced to obsess over it all like a crazy person. 

Here’s a perfect example. 

Our waiter had a button stuck to his apron that said “Ask Me about Bacon Time!” Why in the hell would I remember that? He had to have been wearing, like, thirty buttons— they always do— but that’s the one I remember. He brought us our food, I saw the button, and I wondered if he was ever tempted to wear it outside of work, like with jeans and a T-shirt, just hanging out with his friends. 

Hey, everybody— you guys— ask me about Bacon Time! 

There was an old couple at the table next to ours drinking these enormous novelty margaritas, like a pair of drunks on a cruise. The lady kept touching her husband’s hand across the table. It was nice. I remember thinking that. They wore matching Velcro sneakers. 

“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham! was playing. Blast from the past, I know, but talk about a jagged little piece of pop music irony. I suggest Googling it. It’s the single most upbeat fucking thing in the history of recorded music. In five thousand years, archaeologists will unearth it on someone’s long-lost computer. Jesus, were these primitive people really that happy? they’ll ask in their high-tech future language. 

Karen was wearing her green sweater, the one I got her for her birthday. She really loves green. Green throw pillows. Green socks. She painted an accent wall green in our dining room once when I was away. It was kind of weird— her green obsession— but I went with it, because she was my wife. I saw the sweater on one of those creepy headless mannequins at the Gap, and I knew she’d love it. 

Here’s the worst detail of all— worse than Wham! even, if you can believe it. It all happened at Applebee’s.

Norman, Matthew -We're All Damaged 

I like the way he's taken so many seemingly normal things in suburban life and arranged them into his breakup to be completely absurd and revealing at the same time.