If i Would Leave Myself Behind is a novella with short stories following it.
I couldn’t figure out what was going on the beginning of the book, but after page five I figured it out and realized what Becker was doing. But I have a hard time explaining it. The book is not a linear plot, with beginning middle and end. Random things happen creating an overall emotion.
In the novella a girl ends up playing board games with a boy, she didn’t want to play the game but she did anyway. Becker writes, “I was looking at your mouth, thinking that should not be what your mouth is doing.” I really like that line. The young girl seems so alienated, instead of enjoying the game, embracing the moment, she can’t, she is too awkward and just stares at the boy’s mouth.
Becker says, “He looks to a bottle and climbs into the bottle and becomes the bottle and comes out another boy.”
Becker says, “We were ugly. We were not ugly enough. We were not ugly.”
Becker says, “You smile at me now. You bring me champagne. You use words like compelling and captivating. They are precursors to difficult and irrational. The words are the same. If you look at me that way now, you will dislike me more. I am not complex. I am simple incapable.”
I believe I have this problem. I go on dates and women find me charming and cute, and everything is nice. They make me a hat or draw me a picture. I can be captivating, but I can also be irrational and scream like a maniac. But at the same time, everyone is irrational and difficult. The character seems to be under the impression that they are unique in terms of being irrational and nuts. I’ve known a lot of ‘basic girls’ and ‘basic boys’ in my life, they are all difficult and irrational too, in different ways, but still pretty much the same ways.
Becker says, “I bought cupcakes and cheese and bagels and butter. I bought things that would make me fat. I bought things that are not meals, food that does not meet daily nutritional needs. I eat soggy fries cooked in the microwave, which is not recommended, and look at a cookbook.”
Being overweight and eating bad food is discussed a lot in the book. I’ve known a lot of women who would eat bad food to emotionally feel better. It seems really sad.
Becker says, “He thinks things about me I do not want him to think.”
From the short story Tell Yourself Becker says, “You will watch reruns of Sex and the City or something like that where beautiful girls get things they want.”
I’ve watched a lot of episodes of Sex and the City, first my dad really liked it in the 90s and then an ex liked to watch it. I ended up watching most of the episodes. Sex and the City is devastating, it is wealth porn, the whole show is wealthy people living wealthy lives doing meaningless things for the sake of their own narcissism/vanity/emptiness. But still it is not as meaningless as comic book movies or pretty much any movie with Seth Rogen/Liam Neeson, Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale. So I am not going to judge Sex and the City too hard compared to movies about super wealthy people dressed up as bats fighting ‘crime.’ I guess the difference is: In Sex and the City it does kind of say, “You can be successful women, you can become lawyers and art dealers and have meaningless sex.” While comic book movies say to men, “VIOLENCE MURDER CORPORATISM!” I don’t think you need to be a semiotics expert to realize that Iron Man and Batman are pro some corporatism. (Why did I write this inside this review, because Lauren Becker made me think it, good books make you think weird things.)
I really like how the author shows that watching television is not an escape, mainstream movies and television are there to make you feel bad, to create jealousy and desire inside. But not a concrete jealousy like, “I want to be able to lift 120 pounds because my friend can,” or, “I want to write a book as awesome as Murakami.” Which is a very innocent kind of jealousy. But Sex and the City causes this type of jealousy, “You are poor, you are overweight, your lover is not as attractive as my lover, in fact your lover sucks, your house sucks, your job title sucks, even if your job doesn’t suck and you love your coworkers it still sucks because you do not live in NYC and have shit tons of money and you are not getting fucked by Mr. Big.”
Lauren Becker’s If i Would Leave Myself Behind doesn’t make you feel like shit, she is like a friend telling an elaborate story, she isn’t trying to sell you anything.
The story Parameters is about a woman named Beth who never leaves her town, she stays within 18 miles of her house. I like the story, I know people like that, who never leave their town.
The story Spin is about a guy who likes records.