Evenin’ all! It’s that time again – those few moments that you devote to discovering a new reading opportunity. Today’s offering is Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball, which is a complicated but quick read that tracks a fictional series of letters written by the main character, Jonathan Bender, to seemingly everybody in his life (including his old high school….no, not the students, the actual building) just prior to his suicide. So not really a beach or holiday read, but certainly one that delivers in the high-emotions department.
I nearly didn’t pick this one up because while reading the blurb for one of the author’s other books, I came across the bizarre line “possibly the saddest book ever written”……I’m not quite sure who the publishers thought would be excited enough by that line to purchase the book (“Oh I can’t wait to get this home and start vicariously experiencing agonising despair!!”), but enticing as the suggestion was, I thought I’d begin my relationship with Kimball in a less dramatic, though still fairly sombre, reading experience.
It’s clear from the introduction by the main character’s brother (he who has compiled the letters and other documents into the form presented to the reader) that Jonathan always experienced life a little differently from the common herd. However, the nature of his mental illness or personality issue is never made explicit. I think this helps the overall reading experience because the reader isn’t restricted to thinking of Jonathan in terms of a label. But in short…..
READ IT IF:…..
* you are looking for something with a bit of depth and substance
* you enjoy books in letter-format
* you are prepared to experience a bit of sadness, empathy or reflection on negative experiences
Once again, I feel the need to put up a bit of a flag to warn the unwary, so…..
DON’T READ IT IF:
* you are in a state of great emotional imbalance
* you have any kind of issue with reading about suicide or its aftermath
* you are looking for something light, fluffy, and preferably containing jolly conversations between charming spinsters who knit woollen coats for teacup poodles
I can’t pretend that I enjoyed this one – I don’t feel it’s the kind of book that one should enjoy….but it was definitely worth picking up. I’m not sure whether I want to progress to Kimball’s other tome – that saddest one ever written – but I’d love to hear opinions of any other readers who have read Kimball’s work and how they found it.
Until next time,