Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Review - All My Friends Are Superheroes

All My Friends Are SuperheroesI love subtle and simple titles, don't you? I also love titles like this one, where it's everything but subtle and anything but simple, and I'm sure that every time I tell people what book I read they just look at me like I'm a mad fool (this is just proof of that, mind you). The book in question, All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman, delivers a simplistic story in a relatively short read, and it's as entertaining as the confused looks on people's faces when you tell them its title.

So, are all his friends superheroes?
Considering the fact that he was a nobody before he was a friend of every superhero in the city, yes. His friends are superheroes - by some definition - and his wife is a superhero and he's... well, he's invisible. To her. By no fault or cause of his own.

Okay, what? "By some definition"? What does that even mean?
Well... not all of them are especially "super". Some of them have powers that we would deem to be an ordinary skill. Almost all of the anecdotal descriptions of them - of which there are many - are highly entertaining nuggets of wit and imagination. And while the superheroes are quite a big part of the story, you don't need to be a comic book fan to appreciate the wonderfulness of their "powers" and how they contribute to the madness that is the protagonist's life.

Riiiight. And he's invisible to his wife?
Yeah, she was made to not notice his existence. She's called The Perfectionist. Anything she touches becomes instantly perfect. As the story begins, she's getting ready to start a new life in a city that will become perfect by her very presence, and so she can get over her husband's disappearance. He has the duration of the flight to figure out how to convince her he exists, or he loses everything he holds dear.

And that's what the book is about?
Books aren't "about" anything, but if they were, this one wouldn't be "about" a man proving his existence to his wife, or "about" a bunch of superheroes with powers that are questionably and variably super. This book is "about" love, undying and heart-wrenching and life-changing love, and how losing love can cause you to lose everything else, and how silent appreciation of someone is love and taking up smoking because someone's gone is love and following someone unbeknownst to them across the country trying to prove you exist is love, and everything else in between, all the hurt and all the joy and all the jealousy and the troubles are love. And this book is all "about" love.

So wait... what's the target demographic?
I would say anyone who likes quick and delightful reads, anyone who can appreciate the many unique powers that Kaufman can create, stories about love, stories about loss, stories that centre around characters and people, and people who appreciate and/or love any combination of the above, as well as many other things I probably missed out on. It's a wonderful book and possibly the most diverse and universal book I've reviewed; it's not complicated or too specific to genre, not overly literary, or any other complaints that might arise from readers about books. It is, quite simpl, a subtle delight, without the subtle and simple title!

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