You Comma Idiot
“You believe that only you know what’s really funny. You believe that no one else brings any real perspective to the table. You believe that computers are just a fad… You believe that knowing all this, that being burdened with this much vision, is paralyzing, that it would paralyze anyone, and so it’s not your fault if you’ve never really done anything in your life.”
This excerpt from You Comma Idiot captures the apathetic narcissism ubiquitous in our current generation - and Canadian author Doug Harris cleverly manages to make it a valid perspective.
Lee Goodstone, our protagonist, is not a likeable guy. He’s sleeping with his best friend’s girlfriend and he’s brutally lazy.
Considering his only concern about his friend Henry being accused of murder is that it might jeopardize his drug deals, it’s fair to say he’s also pretty selfish.
And yet Harris makes him likeable because he makes him you.
The novel is written in second person, which initially makes for an alarming read. It feels like you’re being yelled at.
But eventually you adjust to it and realize that Harris is probably a genius for writing his novel this way.
By literally being inside Lee’s head and hearing all of the horrible and hilariously offensive things he says about himself and other people, you develop a relationship with the character that reaches a level of intimacy rarely established even in first person novels.
Harris’s decision to differ his style of narrative is the reason this book will resonate with an audience of this generation.
You, as the reader, end up cheering on this pathetic little man who has never really done anything with his life because if you don’t, you’ll lose hope for yourself too.
The book reads like man-lit (chick literature for dudes), but women can still identify with many of the themes in the book regardless of its male focus (especially if they smoke hash and have irresponsible friends).
Harris’s novel is littered with some poignantly funny remarks about the way our society has supposedly progressed that give the novel the punchy cynicism that often saves it from the mediocre plot: “We now live in a perfectly harmonious, racially integrated land only TV seems to truly endorse.”
Bitter, depressing and often politically incorrect, You Comma Idiot may not be high-calibre literature.
However, it is a sensationalistic read that makes a fair attempt at reflecting the apathy that young adults feel in a postmodern world where it’s hard to commit to anything.