In your continuing, feckless efforts to prove to the world how learned and erudite you are you’ve begun to read Adam Levin’s The Instructions, a thousand-page book about a pugnacious Jewish tenth grader with messianic tendencies. The novel has the exact weight and dimensions of a cinderblock. Most likely, you’ll finish the book, remembering almost nothing about it besides whether you liked it or not, justifying your opinion with a desperately clung to, isolated instance of personal appeal or repulsion. Yet, fifty pages in, you’re approaching rapt. Not only does the book boast character names such as Ronrico Asparagus and Boystar, but there’s extensive use of bathos humor, hypertext, real-true-deep-down-inner-person-feelings, and a step-by-step walkthrough on how to construct a deadly penny gun out of a soda bottle and a balloon. If these puerile, absurd inclusions are going to appeal to anyone that anyone is you.
A LINE THAT MADE YOU OUT-LOUD LAUGH WHICH IN TURN FORCED YOU TO RECONSIDER THE POSSIBILITY OF YOUR EVEN COMING NEAR FINISHING THE BOOK THE INSTRUCTIONS: “Guard it (the penny gun) closely. Do not guard it with your life, but guard it with your face. It is not worth getting killed over, but it is worth getting a broken face over.”
Are you as upset that Joshua Cohen (who this past spring wrote an eerily similar book that commercially flopped) was selected to review the book for the New York Times? Do you feel that the review may be a bit, I don’t know a bit, biased? Tendentious? Overly obtuse? Do you?