Thursday, July 14, 2011

Outsourcing my love

Book: Your Wildest Dreams, Within Reason

Author: Mike Sacks

Published: 2011 (Tin House Books)

Pages: 264

The page count on this one lies. Two hundred and sixty-four pages sounds like sitting down to a three-course dinner; this reads like eating a family size bag of potato chips, driving that same compulsion to consume just one more to see how it tastes different than the last one until suddenly there are no next ones (and yet your stomach remains convinced there’s more for another ten minutes. Or that might just be mine).

Yeah, I know that metaphor’s been used before. Shut up. I’m saving all my nice ones for my 

My favorite piece was “Saw You on the Q Train,” which set up and deteriorated a whole relationship through imagined Craigslist missed connection ads. It’ll give you a little sense of Sacks’s superior sense of absurdity to know that Q and Purse’s downfall starts with an argument over a theoretical swing one of them didn’t want in their theoretical shared back yard and ends with lawyers putting on their best courtroom threats. On Craigslist.

Also good: “Outsource My Love,” “A Leaflet Dropped Over Amy Weller’s House” (“from the slightly more exciting, grownup, and respectable name of MICHAEL SACKS”), because Sacks is excellent at exposing the more ridiculous aspects of both romance and business jargon when he combines them; and “Short Story Geared to College Students as Written by a Thirty-Something Author,” because he nails exactly how college students act. Right? You kids still do the Limp Bizkits and whatnot, yeah? Ah, who cares. It’s funny! *waves graduated cane*   

And then there were the letters from writer Rhon Penny “(silent H), and I am no longer married,” who writes to famous authors proposing collaborations on things like getting his own fatwa (to Salman Rushdie) and extending John Steinback’s writing estate V.C. Andrews-style (ghostwritten, with poetry slams to keep it relevant to the kids). I almost fell out of my chair reading that last one, and then I righted myself and remembered that not everyone finds classic literature parodies funny. Except I bet you do if you’re reading this blog.

The only thing I didn’t care about were the lists that didn’t elaborate on their items (“Signs Your College Isn’t Very Prestigious,” “Reasons You’re Still Single,” “Things You Must Do Before You Get Too Old,” one or two more) because they went by too fast and didn’t sink in.

But let Mike Sacks funny you up, because he’s good at it.    

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