The purposeful rambling gives Cowen license to explore odd connections and digressions among his wildly divergent topics, hopping from his father’s death to The Lion King to Paul Auster and back in one recursive tangent. He uses diagrams, social media screen grabs, and web pages (which he counts as a single word) to illustrate his points about the problems with Instagram (“the invasive proliferation of autobiography, of the diary, of self-preoccupation as a genre in and of itself”) or to launch into discussions of copyright usage. His single and singular sentence is impressively seamless, even when occasionally frustrating the reader.
Though the lack of finishing punctuation or breaks sometimes makes the text difficult to decipher, the through-line narrative comes across as meditative and honest in an intentionally disarming way. Cowen’s humorous narration and collage storytelling give readers a raw, unguarded look into his mind. An ambitious experiment in form, Cowen’s unfiltered journey is a rewarding read for fans of avant-garde literature that blends confessional writing and criticism.
Takeaway: Readers undaunted by literary experiments will find wholesome vulnerability and contemplative humor in this self-consciously record-breaking novel.
Great for fans of Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport, W.G. Sebald’s Rings of Saturn.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A