Book Review: Gone with the Mind

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For the past few years I haven’t read a single book without reviewing that book on some internet platform, usually Goodreads. Sometimes it is just a few lines of approval. Most often it is a few paragraphs on how the book made me feel and the general relevance and gravitas of the words. And on the rare occasion a logorrhea of critiques and insults will ensue due to my disappointment or general chagrin.

I always appreciate good reviews on books I am interested in delving into, so I find it only fair and right to let the world know what I think about a book. Many books I cannot recall how I stumbled into their pages, but will forever be grateful for the stroke of serendipity. So if a descriptive sentence can steer a potential reader towards a tome that moves them at a time that they need to be so moved, then all will have been worthwhile.

I recently finished a book that was an absolute assault on the mind. It forced me to re-read lines, re-read whole pages, and look up words as if I was preparing a dissertation paper on a subject I knew nothing about. It was a book that was confusing and hard and annoying, but all the while it kept me curious and deeply interested. The book is called Gone with the Mind. The author’s name is Mark Leyner. I will explain more about the plot and theme of the book in a minute. First, how did I even come to know Mark Leyner exists? Honestly, I saw him on an interview with Charlie Rose, circa 1996. He seemed like a poorly dressed man who took himself way too seriously and wanted nothing more than for people to know how widely intelligent he was. Alas, he was there on the show being compared to one of my all-time favorite authors, David Foster Wallace. Both were labeled post-modernists. Both were known for their extremely large vocabularies. And both were known for writing difficult, hilarious, and wildly non-linear novels. So I thought, what the hell? I read up about Mr. Leyner and found the plot summaries of his books to be new and intriguing, and maybe even Wallace-esque. So, instead of reading his first book or his most famous opus I decided to read his recently released book with vague allusions to Gone with the Wind in the title.

I am not sure I followed this pseudo-autobiography as well as I would have liked to, but I know what I gathered and soaked up was lovely and viscerally enjoyable. The book has multiple narrators and basically is one intense and tangential monologue of a narcissistic paranoid author with mommy issues. But it isn’t some poorly veiled look into one man’s troubled and hyper-dramatized life, it’s a creative work of metafictionalized genius. Leyner meanders, jumps, and soars through the past, through his mind, and through the possibilities of life. If you allow the story, which is unusual and often frustratingly unclear, touch you you will find how much you can relate and how much life is wonderfully disconnected and boggled.

I’m sure many will find it uncouth or pedantic, but I found Gone with the Mind to be nothing short of a bizarre masterpiece.

If you care to know what else I have read or what I think about certain works, be sure to look me up on Goodreads.

And duh follow me on my instagrams- @taylorchurch44 and @taylorchurchbooks

These Weary Hands

David Foster Wallace once wrote,

“Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.”

Though written in a work of fiction, knowing Wallace struggled with deep, paralyzing depression, and that he would go on to take his own life at age 46, these words hold a certain autobiographical sting to them.

As much as we think we understand suicide, who can know what one is truly going through before they “erase their own map,” a phrase Wallace repeatedly used to describe the self-elimination process. Who can understand the inner workings of a broken brain, a depleted and defeated soul, save it be one who has committed the act himself, and these are they who cannot speak out, for they are gone.

The above quote opens me up and makes me think about the things or people I’ve lost, things I’ve let go of, or things that have slipped out of my careless grip. Losing friends, losing my grandma, just barely missing the chance to fall in love, the near-misses of life—looking back, a lot of it hurts. It hurts to let go and it hurts to be let go, and still other times you don’t want to let go, but your hands are bleeding and can’t hold on for another second, even though thats all you want in the world in that moment. It’s like a poor mother that cannot feed her crying hungry children. It smashes her heart, but she just can’t do it. Sometimes we just can’t do it.

But what things have I left my claw marks on? I like to think I try my best and give it all with things I love, but when the colors start to fade and the screws come loose, and things start to fall apart and slip away, how fierce is my hold? How easily will I quit? Am I willing to scratch and claw to hold on, or is the pain, the wincing, the torn fingernails too much?

So I look at my hands. I know they’ve bled at times. I know they’ve been rough and smooth from both overuse and inaction.

And though I’ve never felt the cajoling demons of final and personal destruction, and the clouds above me have never been so black as to obscure all light and chance of hope, I’ve lost dear friends, martyrs to the darkness. And I know they left claw marks on life, but they just couldn’t hold on any longer, and that breaks my heart in new terrible ways. Some nights I can’t sleep thinking about them; not that their gone, but just that life hurt them so much.

So what can I do? I guess I can hold on a little longer and a little tighter. And when I can’t hold on to something, I damn well better leave lines of blood from my weary and broken fingers.

 

 

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Also, for the concerned and curious reader: My first book I’m Trying Here is available for purchase on Amazon and select bookstores. Signed copies can also be procured by contacting me any darn way you please. For my second book, Return Not Desired, see above avenues for attainment.