This was difficult for me. It is extremely rare that I don't finish a book once I begin reading. I think it's happened perhaps a dozen times in my lifetime. I've always been an equal opportunity reader. Whether fiction or non-fiction, I read carefully and take my time. I try to give each author a fair shake, each book on its own merits… genre, theme, topic, story, character, setting, purpose… you get the picture. My encounter with this book is one of those rare exceptions. I couldn't finish it.
From a craft perspective, the author uses a fictional persona, "Mudflap," to help illustrate his story in third person narrative. Unfortunately, this device is inconsistent. The author frequently switches between personal pronouns (I, me) and back to third person (he, Mudflap), sometimes in alternating paragraphs in the same section or chapter. This inconsistency of narration was very frustrating to read. In addition, I found several grammar, spelling, and formatting mistakes (at least in my ebook version). Also, the "real-time post scripts" at the end of the sections or chapters are enigmatic. Their purpose and function was unclear, aside from acting perhaps as an extension of the author's frustration. This book would have benefited tremendously from professional editing.
The synopsis on the back of the book promises "…a philosophical and satirical humor… with solutions for our rapidly changing world." Unfortunately, I found none of these in the 172 pages I read (about half the book). The marketing for this book indicates it to be anti-bullying, but that's not what I read. Instead, I found a victim who decided that the only way to fight back against the bullies he encountered was to write an angry "tell-all" book. By my read, the author's goal was not to relate experiences so readers could learn and grow. But instead, to shame and blame with retaliation, all while hiding his true intent behind fictitious character names (I'm guessing to avoid a lawsuit or several).
One particular passage that stood out for me relates Mudflap's [the author's] frustration with Mudflap's business clients refusing to buy his book. He called it a "lack of support". He further explains that he "fired" them as clients because they didn't buy his book. In the following passage, he writes about taking great pleasure in this action, actually laughing about it with his crew of helpers afterward. In my opinion, this behavior manifested as bullying his clients into buying the book, and then "getting back at them" when they didn't. This seems to be an inverse of the purpose of the book. It was confusing.
In another passage, he writes about not receiving the treatment he wanted from a town librarian based on his status as a local author. He felt slighted and even angry when the librarian afforded more attention to a more experienced and "not local" author. Later, he engages in a conversation with the other author, belittling his work. In my view, this was bullying the author for his success. Yet, again, this incident seemed counter-productive to what I thought was the book's focus.
Perhaps I misinterpreted the book. Perhaps I don't understand the author's brand of humor. Perhaps all the positive stuff was in the first book, and I made a mistake by reading them out of sequence. Perhaps all is redeemed at the end of the book, and I'll never know because I never got to the last page. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive. But perhaps not.
My opinion of this book is that it is a memoir of the author's life, his frustrations with his community, and his neighbors. He writes about the many bullies Mudflap [the author] encounters with a degree of acrimony I could not continue to read. It was too painful. I found only two instances of positivity in this book, and because of that, I had to stop reading.
It is possible that I'm not giving the work a fair shake by not finishing it. I can allow for that possibility. Perhaps I should have forced myself to suffer through to the last page. Perhaps not.
I believe that reading should be something we enjoy, something we can learn from, something that enriches us emotionally and intellectually. Unfortunately, this book served me in none of these ways, so I put it aside.
This book may have an audience, but I am not it. And that's okay. Not every book is for every reader.
All that having been said, I think it is important to take note that this author's writing is courageous. He emptied a good part of himself onto the page, and for that, he should be commended. All writing should be viewed as Sacred Text. Although this book was not in alignment with my personal reflection of life, that does not retract the Sacred value I place on the words and his effort in recording them. For clarification, please read my Philosophy on Sacred Text HERE.
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