Sunday, December 9, 2012

"My Heart is an Idiot: Essays" by Davy Rothbart

Davy Rothbart is looking for love in all the wrong places. Constantly. He falls helplessly in love with pretty much every girl he meets - and rarely is the feeling reciprocated. Time after time, he hopes in a car and tears across half of America with his heart on his sleeve. He's continually coming up with outrageous schemes, which he always manages to pull off. Well, almost always. But even when things don't work out, Rothbart finds meaning and humor in every moment. Whether it's confronting a scammer who takes money from aspiring writers, sifting through a murder case that's left a potentially innocent friend in prison, or waking up naked on a park bench in New York city, nothing and no one is off limits.

But as much as Rothbart is a tragically lovable, irresistibly brokenhearted hero, it's his funny, insightful storytelling that's the star of the book. He is a true original, with a spirit of adventure and a literary voice all his own - "an intriguing hybrid of timeless Midwestern warmth and newfangled jive talk" in the words of Sarah Vowell. Each essay in [this book] shows how things that are seemingly so wrong can be so, so right.

I won this as a Goodreads First Read. Good thing, as I have to say I'm not overly impressed with Rothbart. Oh, his writing isn't bad at all; he's quite good at setting the scene, describing the events, etc. But these essays come off as the whining, "life owes me" plaints of a 30-something hipster. Everything comes across as larger than life, with Rothbart creating a persona that I, quite frankly, didn't enjoy.

The author keeps talking about his pitiful love life, and yet, in "Shade", he writes about the various girls he's dated in an attempt to find someone that matches his "dream girl" - Shade, a character in the movie Gas, Food, Lodging. Wow, no pressure for these girls, huh? Of course he's unsuccessful in his quest - she's a fictional character!

The only piece that I felt the slightest connection to was "New York, New York", a wonderful bit of writing about the author traveling across the country to New York City to see the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. My guess is that this voice is the real Davy Rothbart, and this guy, I like. I just wish he'd shown up in more of the collected essays.

No comments: