No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Saturday, January 12, 2013

2012/62: All My Friends are Superheroes -- Andrew Kaufman

"I don't remember a single monster before I met you," he'd told the Amphibian. "Now they seem to be all over the place."
"You mean there wasn't anything you were afraid of?" the Amphibian had asked him.
"Lots."
"What did they look like?"
It was a funny question. "They didn't look like anything. They were ideas," Tom told him. "Like not being able to pay rent, or being lonely."
"That's the most terrifying thing I've ever heard," the Amphibian replied. [location 447]

All My Friends are Superheroes is a short (108-page), sweet book about love, with a last line of utter perfection. Kaufman's writing is philosophical, plain-spoken and precise. And the title is completely accurate: all Tom's friends are superheroes. There's Someday ('she had red hair, a compact frame and two superpowers: an amazing ability to think big and an unlimited capacity to procrastinate'); the Ticker, whose superpower is her amazing potential; the Clock, the Broken Heart, the Ear, the Amphibian ... Each is sketched in a flashback scene, and these scenes string together to tell the story of Tom's apparently-doomed marriage.

Tom is married to the Perfectionist, but at their wedding she was hypnotised (by Hypno, of course: he happens to be an ex of hers). Now she can't see (or feel, or hear) Tom. The entire novel takes place on a plane trip to Vancouver, with Tom desperately trying to make himself visible before the Perfectionist swans off to a perfect new life.

Try it, right now; boil down your personality and abilities to a single phrase or image. If you can do that, you’re probably a superhero already. Part of the problem with finding your superhero name is that it may refer to something you don’t like about yourself. It may actually be the part of yourself you hate the most, would pay money to get rid of. [location 826]

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