Fractious, unfocused review of a book with a long title

Posted: 01/25/2013 in Uncategorized

I have been, like, off the planet for a long time. Let’s call it life events or chronic illness or some shit and move on.

~

Tits

Love Is Not Constantly Wondering if You Are Making the Biggest Mistake of Your Life by Anonymous is a very short novel. Practically a poem. It has been out for more than a year, and I found it via a review on Slate, via an ad on, I think, A Softer World. I tweeted the review because I was excited about the “choose your own adventure, but you can’t” gimmick, and I was the ~35th person to tweet it since it went up in May. So, some, but not all/many people are reading this book, as is the case for almost every single book ever published. It’s all meaningless.

Wait, hold on, I’m writing something that’s supposed to be coherent. Let me back up. LINCWiYAMtBMoYL–or, as I like to call it, “Link Why Am’t B’moil”–is a cool little book. It’s laid out in the format of the old Choose Your Own Adventure novels, such as Prisoner of the Ant PeopleWar with the Evil Power Master, and what sounds like it must have been the greatest YA novel ever written, You Are a Shark.

You are not a shark in Link Why Am’t B’moil (you are in fact a geeky guy in his 20’s), but other than that it’s pretty interesting. The artwork, cover, description, and choices at the ends of sections have to do with a plot revolving around crash-landing on an alien planet and being captured by ant warriors, but the actual story is about “your” long-term relationship with Anne, a hard-partying, irresponsible, alcoholic musician. Chapters are organized by date instead of the arbitrary numbers they used in those old pieces of crap. So, you’ll read something like “and the situation is really shitty, but its a situation we have chosen for ourselves: you choose to drink, and i choose to have problem with your drinking, and for us i don’t know if there is an alternative to this right now.” and then it will be followed by “If you agree to fight the other prisoner to the death, turn to October 24, 2003; If you refuse to duel for the Ant-Warriors’ amusement, turn to October 20, 2004.” Unlike the real CYOA books, Link Why Am’t B’moil (which I’m going to start calling LWAB) has only one ending, an underwhelming anticlimax which you move toward in a stumbling, random fashion but eventually reach no matter what, provided you can hold still for the hour or so that it takes to read the entire book.

The format and conceit is obvious and irresistible at the same time. You’re stuck in a co-dependent relationship and, while you’re given choices, you can’t make the ones that you really need to make. The choices you do make are essentially meaningless because, like any broken relationship, it’s going to end the way it inevitably was anyway. It’s hard to see your way out because of how the narrative throws you around from day to day, so that you never know exactly where you are or what is going on. This motherfucker found an unclaimed Stunt Anyone Can Only Pull Once and claimed it, and the result kept me entertained for a few days and gave me something to think about for a while after.

Make no mistake, with LWAB (which I’m going to start calling Lou Ab) the fun is in the form. The story itself is crafted with vivid emotional realism, but presented any other way it would be an unremarkable story that just gives off an icky having-to-watch-someone-else’s-relationship-fail vibe. But because it’s a story that hits so close to home for almost anyone, the choice to make it similar in structure and tone to a CYOA book adds an original spin to the reading experience. There are times when the writing breaks from this formula and drops the pretense of being anything other than a run-of-the-mill roman a clef, but you move between chapters so quick that it’s hardly noticeable.

In my opinion the existance of Lou Ab (which I think must be short for Louis Abner) is pretty heroic, and the nameless author is on my list of people who don’t have to pay. I recommend Louis Abner to anyone bored enough to read the kind of bullshit I engage in. I mean, it’s five goddamn dollars, people.

~

If there were a CYOA book about me, it would be called Master of Boylesque, which is what has been taking up a lot of my time recently. M. Shaw is also Serge Le Sinister of the Ooh-La-Las. We’ll be the only troop with a booth at Sexapalooza next weekend, if you’re in Columbus.

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