In which I review Brad Listi’s “Attention. Deficit. Disorder.”…Posted: July 26, 2010
Today I shall be reviewing “Attention. Deficit. Disorder.”. I came across this when, on his blog, Scott Pack (http://meandmybigmouth.typepad.com) offered people a book as long as they made it the next book they read and reviewed it online afterwards. So I did and I am. And I loved it. LOVED.
“Attention. Deficit. Disorder.” (the full stops are part of the title, I swear) was published by the Friday Project in 2008, ISBN 978-0-906321-09-3, is, it states in the blurb, “the first great road novel of the 21st century.” This is what first drew me to the book…I’m a sucker for a road movie with all the emotional journey/actual movement connotations. That sounds sarcastic, but really isn’t.
Anyway, in a nutshell, Wayne Fencer attends the funeral of his ex-girlfriend. She has committed suicide and, as he finds out at the funeral, previously aborted his (their) child. He then goes on a journey, mental and physical, that involves travel through Cuba, the Appalachian trail and finally, the Burning Man festival in Nevada. More importantly, arguably, he examines himself, his life and his attitude to those around him.
Brad Listi writes is a plain, matter of fact, but beautiful way. His method of portraying a questioning young man is so realistic. The things Wayne asks himself, the way he reacts to situations, his thought processes are almost hyper-ordinary…or maybe I just really identified with his particular brand of insecure confusion.
Stylistically, the book is written in an unusual way. A list of short quotations by a range of philosophers, authors and politicians lead into the narrative. Peppered throughout the book are definitions of keywords and recipes…including, usefully, one for a cuba libre cocktail. My liver shall not thank him.
To be honest, I think a lot of the book, both stylistically (the quotes, definitions, layout, recipes) and thematically can be summed up by the word “useful”. I have a quote to back me up, as per all good student-practice:
“The philosophy of utility fits every occasion…and I am implying the principle in urging you to begin at once to plan for the future”.
(p.146—I will also take this opportunity to point out that this is not the protagonist’s voice, but a letter written to Benton Mackaye, founder of the Appalachian trail, by his brother. These words spurn Benton on to move on from the death of his wife and cement his vision for the Trail.)
“Attention. Deficit. Disorder.” really is an excellent book, you care for Wayne and as mentioned above, I had no trouble identifying with him. His insecurities, his desire to question and understand life and the actions of those around him, and the emphasis of others (family members, friends) to focus his “trajectory” are all too real. I would heartily recommend reading it, and to be honest, I don’t think this review has done justice to how enthralling, exhilarating and strangely comforting I found this book.
*At this stage, if I knew how to link to amazon.co.uk I would do it here. Or maybe this will work… http://amzn.to/9b0cJk