Author captures slacker heroes

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July 5, 2014

David Foster Wallace Ruined My Suicide and Other Stories

By D.D Miller

A Buckrider Book

246 pages, $20

Reviewed by Adam Hayman

Here is the easiest way I can summarize this book: if someone made a collection of short films out of D.D Miller’s stories, the director would have to be Louis C.K. However, if you’ve never seen the show Louie, that won’t make much sense, so let me put it this way: if a close examination of the “post-millennial” man is what you’re after, then Miller is able to deliver that, and he does so from a handful of angles.

A dozen stories in this book all paint many men in, what I’m afraid to call, an honest light. Men who think about porn, fantasize about waitresses, and fail to act at times they know they should.  These guys are held back by what they think of as laziness, but any undergrad in a first year psych class would call fear: fear of failure, being alone, or commitment. It certainly isn’t a flattering light, but somewhere in this collage of characters many men could share a sentiment. Miller doesn’t give the impression that he’s writing these characters out of humour. They seem to come from an understanding of their humanity.

The stories’ premises vary from something as simple as two couples on a beach, to an untethered, pig-blimp flying over a city in the midst of a city-worker strike. There are men in every stage of modern relationship; the women they all long for vary. The stories to watch out for: Dinosaurporn.com; Son of a Son of a Flying Pig; David Foster Wallace Ruined My Suicide; and My Summer With Seth. The last story piqued my interest because it is written in the form of a letter, and more importantly, it features a character that is likened to Seth Rogan. What gen-y-guy hasn’t laughed at the odd Rogan flick?

Reading several stories of different men pining over the sexual image of a woman, and enjoying the feeling of a cold beer can, however, loose its attraction. The Tudor, a story in the collection, is a prime example of this. The main character describes vivid sexual fantasies involving one of the university students he is tutoring. It is at times a little uncomfortable to read, especially for those not interested in such subject material. It is, however, well written. The main characters’ thoughts and actions are what make it uncomfortable, but if the author had left them out the story would’ve fallen flat.

This collection is a great tool for anyone looking to study the “slacker hero,” or for anyone simply looking to find great examples of characterization. This is Miller’s first book, and I am all too excited to see a full novel come from his desk. The chance to read Miller explore every aspect of a character would be hard to pass up.

Adam Hayman is a writer and student journalist.

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