Review: Melissa Broder
I made a new friend just recently. And when I say new friend, I mean I found an author that felt like she could be my spirit animal. I read to find friends, whether they be real people expressing themselves in essays, memoirs and poems or imaginary characters in works of fiction. I read to see myself in others, I read for shared experiences, deep secrets, dark humor and the many layers of simplicity/complexity of the human psyche on a page. I live for that shit.
I’ve been reading so much non-fiction these days I decided that since I’m trying to write in the contemporary fiction genre maybe I should read more of what’s hot in the streets today. I consulted one of my favorite non-academic sources, Buzzfeed, and found their picks for best new fiction of 2018. There were two on the list that stood out to me so I ordered them through the library.
Before I go any further, I just have to say, there’s so much good stuff to read out there. I don’t believe that you should be stuck reading something that you don’t like even if it may make you seem more educated, cooler, well-read, whatever. Life is too fucking short for that nonsense, read what turns you on, except if you are still in school (sorry but you don’t have a choice there). They call it "reading for pleasure" for a reason, right?
Anyways, librarian intellectual freedom and extent of quality writing to be encountered for free rant over. The only reason I mention it is because I didn’t get more than two pages into the first one before sending it back without checking it out. Just wasn’t my thing, no big.
I was attracted to the second book for multiple reasons; female author who appeared to be about my age, interesting cover art, and a title that is also an astrological sign. Check, check, and check. I landed on The Pisces by Melissa Broder.
The Pisces follows the semi defunct life of a woman in her thirties that is struggling through the end of a shitty relationship, failing out of her PHD program, and facing mental health issues that land her in group therapy and a summer away at her rich sister’s house in Venice where she ultimately falls hard for a merman. The book is funny, sad, and entirely relatable to anybody out there who may have depression or anxiety, is navigating the world of online dating, or has any kind of addictive tendencies.
Broder has a way of going to the darkest and dingiest of places with no shame. It was a good read, went by fast, and held my attention the entire way through.
A co-worker saw me reading it and told me about So Sad Today, Broder’s collection of personal essays based on the name of a Twitter account she anonymously started in 2012. I checked this one out right after I finished the novel. Not only are these essays brutally honest, they are hilarious, and delivered with a wonderful brand of dark humor and deep acceptance of human character flaws. They are great accounts of what it’s like to live with the struggle of looking completely normal on the outside but feeling like a gigantic mess on the inside. Also, bonus for me, you can see how she constructed the main character in her novel from these essays. My kink is finding an author I love, reading their fiction, then reading biographies and personal letters and essays and seeing how they construct characters from their own lives.
Highly recommend these two, but be prepared to squirm a bit, unless you don't believe in TMI. Which I don't, but I know some people out there do.