Written for YouWritten for You by Joseph Cognard
My rating: 3/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne Star

the back of this book says: Will you enjoy reading a play? Of course you will, don’t forget it is and will always be, Written for You.

and yet i do not think this is true.

and it’s no fault of the book—this is my third shot this year at reading contemporary drama, and i think i just have an aversion to the format of plays. i’d rather have seen this staged, or read this in prose-form. i’ve enjoyed plays in the past, but they were old timey things like shakespeare and euripides. i didn’t even enjoy The Stonemason: A Play in Five Acts, and cormac mccarthy is one of my all-time favorite writers. so this is definitely a case of not written for me, but maybe for you.

because the premise is good: bob curry is an accountant for a publishing house who has written a book and has tried repeatedly to get his co-workers, his family, and even his therapist to read it, receiving a wide range of excuses in return about why they haven’t yet, but they’re totally going to… eventually. and it’s all very funny and familiar—i’ve certainly had books pushed on me by people, whether they’ve written them or not, that i’ve put off reading because i didn’t think i would be able to give them the feedback they were hoping for, but wanting to be polite about it. and bob’s not-so-subtle, and apparently pathological, attempts to turn every conversation back to his book are humorous, as are the many publishing-jokes scattered throughout involving difficult authors, the passing-the-buck of expense account receipts, and general office woes.

but there’s another layer to the book that is darker, as the few people who have read bob’s book and have made arrangements to meet up and give him their feedback suddenly go missing, which is of course just as frustrating as not being able to get people to read it in the first place. around the same time, bob begins to experience lost-time blackouts and develops an unusual relationship with a mysterious entity named joe, so undercutting the humor is a more serious thrum of psychological suspense as you try to determine how reliable bob is as a character, and what is going on in the scenes left unwritten and unremembered by bob.

it’s a fun, funny, and surprising story, but i think i just don’t engage in stories written in play-format. i like me a bit of detail, description, interiority, and the way plays chop up the story into dialogue alone keeps me-as-reader at a distance instead of snuggling me close into the developing story. it feels artificial, if that makes any sense. maybe i’ll come around on drama, someday, the way i eventually did on short stories, but right now, it is just not a structure i love. however—if you are less play-averse than i am, give it a go, because the story itself is a good one.

just don’t say you’re going to read it and then make a million excuses about it. because that’s just annoying.

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