Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg: Short Story Collection Book Review
Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg
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I have a hard time synthesizing my thoughts on this collection because, like all short story collections, there are some I really enjoyed and some that I didn't. If you're a fan of Bojack Horseman, you'll likely want to pick this up because it was written by the show's creator. Though I've never seen the show, it seems to carry the same surrealist sensibility as many of these stories have strange quirks that warp reality as well. Some of these are entertaining and thought provoking and others are ones I could've skipped that took the bit to a tiring point.
The point of the collection, as hinted at by the title, is telling stories about love from a variety of different angles. The title is utterly brilliant, and there's about one story in the collection I love as much as this title. It starts strong with a bizarre story about a world where weddings come with even worse and more involved rituals than our real world ones do. The couple starts off thinking that they're going to defy all of the traditions and just do the wedding the way they want to. Quickly, they're told their marriage will be doomed, are talked into doing all of the traditions to excess, and then they end up so stressed that they forget why they even love each other. The absurdity highlights the trap that so many couples ultimately fall into, and it worked well in this application. The same can't be said for all the stories–like the one about a dog's love for its humans from the perspective of the dog. It was one of the two stories I skipped.
There's romantic love, parental love, dog love, sibling love, and many more flavors covered in this book. My two favorite stories in the book were "Average of All Possible Things" and "Missed Connections." I liked Average less for sure, but I did relate to it too deeply. It's about a woman who has an office affair (not the part I relate to), gets dumped, and then she becomes obsessed with her phone waiting for a message, a sign, or any indication from this man. She checks her phone constantly and is always disappointed, and it becomes an obsession because the rest of her life is so painfully average. She eventually overcomes this addiction and her feelings for the useless man, but the reality of telling yourself you're just checking the time when you're really checking your notifications is too real.
"Missed Connection–m4w" is one of my all time favorite short stories, ever. What a twist, I know. I absolutely loved the story of these two people who sit down across from each other on the train and have an immediate connection. But they don't know how to start a conversation. They're too nervous. So they don't get off at their stops, and they ride the train to the end of the line and back over and over till they're 60 and old and lost everything else they love. And then, one day, the lady just gets up and leaves at one of the stops, and the decades of tension and build up are lost without a single word shared. Too scared to make a move and break the silence and forever filled with regret.
The other highlight for me was the "Short Stories" section with 10 single sentences stories, which I always find fascinating. Some of my favorites include: "There are two kinds of people, he thought: the people you don't want to touch because you're afraid you're going to break them, and the people you don't want to touch because you're afraid they'll break you," "'You're not like other girls,' he said to every girl," and "'I don't even think about you,' he couldn't wait to tell her, just as soon as she called him back."
While not ever story was a hit and Bob-Wakserg's style and sense of humor was sometimes grating, there were also truly lovely, thought provoking moments that made me glad I had read it, even if it's not an all time favorite.