For every book we read during the book club, one of our book club members will write a review. This way anyone who couldn’t be there, can still join in with the fun! Roy den Boer is taking over as our main reviewer for the book club books, judging all that we have picked.
Picture a day with an unexpected hangover. Maybe one glass of wine too many the night before. There’s that hangover taste in your mouth that you can’t get rid of. The clean feeling of your morning shower dissipates in minutes. You just make your way through another boring day at work. All the people around you seem a little more annoying than usual. It’s the kind of day you’ll soon forget, but takes an eternity to get through.
You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine seems to take place in a world of only those days. The main character, simply called A, is a young woman with a roommate, B, and a boyfriend, C. B seems to slowly be taking over A’s life. C dismisses A’s concerns by being overly reasonable about an unreasonable world. The first part of the book is mostly located in the apartment shared by A and B. The interactions between these three lettered characters are stylized versions of very recognizable things. Jealousy in a friendship, a romantic relationship between two people who don’t seem to be communicating.
In the later parts of the book A heads out into the world and the tone of the book changes.. B and C are mostly abandoned as A heads into the grocery store we’ve heard about, has run ins with the cult we’ve heard about. The crazy things that were at the edge of the frame take center stage in a somewhat jarring shift. But then a book like this that is just exploring estrangement from life, from the world seems designed to be jarring.
When I first saw that the characters were named A, B and C I kind of scoffed at this book. It seemed like the most tired device in postmodern literature to play with character names in this way. But it’s just a small part of the tapestry, really. The same goes for the parodies of commercials or game shows or Wallmart. The satire isn’t particularly sharp. Pick any single element of the novel and you can probably tear it apart as somewhat tired or shallow or simple, but the book as a whole is undeniably an interesting experience.
In the end, I found reading You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine to be a rather harrowing experience. There’s an odd hollowness to the world as presented in these pages that slowly invades the reader. I can understand some of the terrible reviews for the book. If it doesn’t work for you, then it is going to be easiest thing in the world to hate. It’s so very easy to label the book as pretentious, but if you truly engage with the book there’s a very rich experience to be had.