Doug Harris, You Comma Idiot
Gooselane Editions, 2010

– You are the kind of reader who doesn’t mind being addressed as you. For more than 300 pages.

– You have no fundamental objections to any of the following words appearing in a story: ass, itching, shitty, dick, bitches, fuck, hell, pubic, naked. Sometimes in unfortunate combinations.

– You like your dialogue to sound real. And by ‘real’, you mean sometimes pointless, or circular, or repetitive, or juvenile, or irrational.

[Don’t stop reading yet: you might think that you know where this is going, but you don’t. You might just end up adding this one to your list of Favourite Reads for this year.]

– You appreciate the imperfections and stresses and strains that characterize relationships and you want to know every tiny detail. With the emphasis on emotional confusion.

“One day I’m going to find a boy who likes romantic comedies.”
“Yes. And he’ll be dating your brother.” This is a dumb thing to say. And she doesn’t even have a brother. “Anyways, I’m sorry. I just can’t do the romantic comedy thing. I can do the Shop-With-You-All-Day-If-I-Have-To thing. And even the Slightly-Change-The-Way-I Wear-My-Hair-For-You thing. Or the Throw-Out-Half-The-Furniture-In-My-Place-And-Buy-Everything-From-Ikea thing. But not the Pretend-To-Like-Stupid-Movies thing. I just can’t.”

– You have a loose definition of plot and sometimes prefer people just talking about things happening rather than things actually happening. Because things actually happening can be a little overwhelming.

“He goes off on tangents sometimes. Your Dealer. This isn’t the first time. This time it’s a bit incredibly stunningly astoundingly disgustingly freakishly weird, but what the hell. Maybe he had to tell someboy. Maybe he’s allowed. Maybe it’s good that he finally told somebody. He said it. Now it’s over and done with.”

– You have a keen appreciation of justice, relatively speaking, and someone being Old and Bitter doesn’t let them off your hook.

“And now things are tense between the two of you, too. He refers to you openly as ‘the drug peddler’. Says it to anyone he sees in the building. And mutters under his breath whenever you meet in the elevators. And if you leave quarters at the machines in the basement for your laundry, he steals them. He leapfrogs your loads too.”

– You don’t require your narrator to exhibit consistently heroic qualities and you treasure those moments of hands-in-the-air-frustration with a narrator.

“People don’t set out to be losers. It happens when you’re not paying close enough attention.”

Or —

Or —

Or —

You aren’t any of these things, don’t generally like or even tolerate those things.

You don’t care and do care in contrast to everything said about you up there.

But what you do love about a book is the way that it can sometimes turn everything you thought you wanted — and looked for — in fiction on its end and get you hooked anyway.

You’ll forgive a story that completely upsets your reader’s expectations because you admire a writer who introduces you to a narrator who makes you want good things for them, even when half the time you’ve spent in their company you’ve wanted to slap them upside the head. (Or more than half the time, nearly all the time, you’ve wanted to do that.)

And you end up loving You comma Idiot despite yourself.

You think that’s fantastic.

PS Book trailer for You comma Idiot. Gooselane‘s website. Interview with Doug Harris.