Friday, April 6, 2012

Lexapros and Cons, by Aaron Karo

"I wrote things for the school's newspaper, and - like all teenagers - I dabbled in poetry." - Stephen Colbert

Chuck Taylor owns a pair of Chuck Taylors in every single solid color available. Each color is associated with a mood, and he chooses his shoes for the day accordingly. His parents send him to a psychiatrist for his OCD, he loses his best friend, and there's a hot new girl at school. Cue plot.

I picked up this book to read for my Mock Printz club because I thought it'd be a laugh. Chuck Taylor who wears Chuck Taylors, right? Hahahahaha.

Then I turn to Page 1, and find this lovely opening sentence:
"In the past year, I masturbated exactly 573 times."
It was something of a struggle to get to Sentence Two (which then broke that number down into per week and per day). Put that sentence on page 5, sure, but please don't open with that. It sets the tone for the whole novel, and that's not the kind of novel I want to read.

But okay. He has OCD. He keeps track of weird things. The author is just showing us that in a way that will get our attention. And it certainly got my attention-- in the form of making me want to close the book.

No, Chuck Taylor brings up his tally for 2011 at every possible opportunity for the next 60 pages. The entire first page is about this number, the second page is just how often he uses the bathroom, and a little later on there is an entire spread all about the wonders of internet porn (did you know there's a Sensual Moon III?).

Yes, teenagers think about sex a lot. I think we all understand this. You have made the book relatable on the level of your choosing. Let's bring something else into the mix, shall we? Engaging characters? Interesting dilemma? Plot line I want to see through to the end? No? Just the student body president's breasts and how they're like cantaloupes? Okay then.

Compulsion to bring up sex at every possible moment aside (oooh, see that? An OCD pun. I'm so clever), the writing is just repetitive. Maybe that was done intentionally- I'll give Mr. Karo the benefit of a doubt there- but when an entire page is devoted to
 "My name isn't actually Chuck. It's Charles...No one actually calls me Charles. I go by Chuck. That's what everyone at school calls me...Let's just say that's what my teachers and my one friend call me. Whatever. It's better than Charles."
...I think there's a bit of a problem.

The author seems to have been fairly successful with his other books (Ruminations on College Life and Ruminations on Twentysomething Life), and I've just read a few pages of the former, and it really is pretty hilarious. But it isn't a novel. It's...a collection of hilarious paragraphs about college.

Is Lexapros and Cons funny? Sure. Does it do a good job addressing the trials of actually having OCD? I assume so. People who are not me will enjoy it, but it's still not quality reading, and it's still just getting 2 stars.


  1. My sincere condolences to you for the devastating loss of however many hours of your life you had to devote to perusing this.

  2. Unfortunately your introductory paragraph made it sound quite interesting, although I have to admit I have a soft spot for characters with social disorders, so finding out it wasn't enjoyable was a letdown. It kind of reminds me of Hank's song, "It All Makes Sense at the End," but I thought that was mostly tasteful.

  3. Comments need approval now!? Interesting. May I inquire as to the motivation behind the change?

    PS. You don't need to post this I suppose.

    1. Comments on posts older than so many days (forget the number) have needed approval for a long time. You're just behind. :)

      And yeah, I thought it'd be fairly interesting as well! It just...wasn't.

    2. Hmmm... I guess I'm just even more behind than usual then... Also, how do you get these comment threads to indent to indicate conversation?

    3. There's a reply button. I don't know if it's new or if I just noticed it recently, but it's pretty cool.


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