Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Guest Review: The Sum of his Syndromes

I'm lazy, so here's my sister Erika:

Title: The Sum of His Syndromes

Author: K.B. Dixon

Pages: 126

The Sum of his Syndromes, by K.B. Dixon, really is a strange little book. There is a beginning, but no end. Events, but no plot. Characters, but they hardly do anything. Composed within the stream-of-consciousness notes jotted down by the protagonist, David, in the sixth-floor men's room in his office building, on a stolen notepad. He is a disllusioned and slightly disturbed young man, working a job he hates, with people he hates.

The contents of this book can be divided into five categories: the happenings of his coworkers, who are either reduced to one-sentence observations that see through and tear down whatever image they had tried to build for themselves, or spied upon, the strangest snippets of conversation recorded with no further comment. Interactions with his girlfriend, the too-nice-for-her-own-good Kate, who he loves, but doesn't understand, during which David mentally counts down the days until she inevitably breaks up with him, the only skeleton of plot visible throughout the book. His best friend Peter's literay opinions and aspirations. Conversations with his third therapist, Dr. Costa. And, mixed into all these in domination, are one-sentence hypothesis, questions, and (again) observations of all of these and nothing at all. Sometimes he is talking to Dr. Costa directly, asking him about his work and what exactly he wants from him, sometimes he is rambling philisophical statements to nobody at all, and sometimes he his bitterly talking about his suspicions towards his landlady, whom he thinks is feeding his dog at night.

David is an observer, almost catatonic in his daily interactions, but frighteningly aware of them, the hopes and fears of his his coworkers. The only people he talks about with no contempt is Peter and Kate. He goes through no changes by the end of the book, nor does anyone else. He still expects Kate to come to her senses, listen to her friends, and leave him. He still hates his job. He still goes to therapy. By the end, in fact, he might as well have done nothing at all.

The format was original, the main (and only) character was strangely believable, it was written with a minimilistic style, and the author made it not so hard to believe that a guy was writing this down off the top of his head on the wall of his office bathroom. The micro-vignettes are darkly comedic in their honesty and social commentary on daily office life, and the destruction of young souls that accompanies it. The disturbing thing, though, is that, the entire time, you expect our hero to go through the office with a semi-automatic.

Like Peter's writings, this book was made for a very specific audience. There's almost nothing to it but, albeit funny, witty, and dry, observations of various size about this and that, soul crushing office work or time spent with Kate that leaves him in a daze of confusion. But, for some holders of these jobs, I think it'll hit disturbingly close to home.

Rating: 8 out of 10


There you have it. My lovely sister. Yay.


ParaJunkee said...

Go sis, good job with doling out the work. For that you get an award, go you!

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