In this book, Brian Alan Ellis manages to capture that voice that not everybody knows, but if you know it, if you hear it every day, this book is for you.
Written in second person, narrator’s name unknown, and not following the conventional structure of most books, Something to do with Self-Hate is an easy, quick read loaded with those heavy sentences that shoot straight through the reader like bullets. It maintains a balance of dark humour, satire, and depressive/depressing ruminations.
Although it starts with the protagonist’s break-up, this is not a break-up book. This is the nothingness, helplessness, and uselessness that a lot of us feel every waking moment in modern day life, regardless of circumstances, burdened by the absurdity of being, with nothing to do except hang out with people just as helpless as yourself, working a dead-end job, and hating the person you see in the mirror. Not many authors know how to do this well, not the way Ellis does.
Personally, this is the book equivalent of BoJack Horseman*, filled with perfectly written phrases that I will forever quote. Some notable examples are:
“usually, if you don’t catch the name of the person you’re in bed with, you catch something else.”
“There’s just too much of that stabbing emptiness when it comes to being an individual.”
“You’ll wait for anything at this point [….] maybe the Nobel Prize in ineptness.”
“You knew from an early day that to get through life you’ll have to rely solely on imagination because everything was so disappointing.”
The only thing is, I wish this book were longer. Other than that, it’s a 5/5 from me.
*a perfect depiction of depression and anxiety without being too corny.