Balor’s debut memoir tells of his struggle to find his own identity and purpose in life.
The author, a 25-year-old grocery store janitor somewhere in suburban America, tells readers that he set out to write a novel, but his focus soon shifted to the journal he was writing at the same time. This yearlong chronicle begins as a stream-of-consciousness narrative, filled with seemingly random observations on such subjects as the wonder of black holes; he refers to his journal entries as “a cluster of ceaseless thoughts.” However, his quest for self-discovery ultimately becomes the book’s driving force. He constantly questioned the meaning of his life, and he sought inspiration by inquiring about his co-workers’ life-goals. Although he felt an attraction to women, he says, he had no discernible sex drive and also suffered from depression, apparently related to his parents’ divorce when he was 2. Over the course of this book, he tells of a gradually developing fear that he could be a paranoid schizophrenic. For example, inside his home, he says, he often heard voices, and he wasn’t sure whether they were from the tenants living upstairs or only in his head. He later suffered feelings of emptiness and moroseness, and although his interactions with others seemed to improve by the end of the memoir (he made some friends), he also seemed to need some more recovery time. Balor’s memoir is long and occasionally verbose, which he acknowledges, but the prose is strong and engaging throughout. Poems and snippets of short stories offset the personal narrative; they initially seem like asides but they quickly provide further insight into the author: “My aspirations are a ruse / To convince myself and acquire validation / From other plebs as lost as I.” Likewise, his worries about potential schizophrenia come across as earnest; at one point, for instance, he tells of being convinced that neighbors were listening to and regularly talking about him. The book is, at times, too metafictional, as the author sporadically discusses publishing his book, sifts through title possibilities, and even includes faux reviews from anonymous readers.
A sometimes-bizarre but undeniably intriguing self-examination.