A college junior literally loses his life and must find a new one in this debut magical realism novel.
After a raging party in his fraternity the night before, Doug wakes up to discover that his life, which he keeps in a Tupperware container, has spoiled after being unceremoniously left out of the fridge all night. Things quickly go downhill from there when his stereotypically hot-but-dumb cheerleader girlfriend, Sarah, dumps him, and Doug knows it will only get worse for his much-prized social standing if his frat brothers discover he’s become a lifeless loser. Thus begins Doug’s quest to “get a life” in this self-aware story that takes that expression literally. But where does one get a life? Gerrard explores this question in varied forms but always with a bent toward the ludicrous that nonetheless grows from an insightful seed of truth. Can Doug revert to his pre-college life or get a new existence at Walmart? Can he somehow re-create the one he lost? And if he accomplishes any of those options, will that really be the life he wants? Guided—or perhaps goaded—along the plot by the author (much to Doug’s fourth-wall–breaking annoyance), the protagonist seeks the advice of a Roma and is both helped and hindered by a cast that includes a young girl from an insane asylum, a troll with a trowel, and an invisible being sporting a pair of green pants. Pursued by vindictive frat brothers and afraid of being spotted without a life—especially by the nerdy girl on campus that he won’t admit he has a crush on—Doug traverses a landscape littered with allusions to similarly manic tales as he eagerly tracks and then recalcitrantly confronts the dreaded life lessons. Though the book never manages to match the cleverness of the material that inspires it, readers should still chuckle at Doug’s struggles and find much to enjoy in the character’s growth as he reluctantly realizes his story is one of self-discovery. But whether or not he’ll get a life in time to save his carefully manicured social position, Doug doesn’t know. As the author interjects early on when his protagonist feels a moment of optimism: Doug clearly didn’t read ahead.
An amusing satire of self-discovery in the form of a madcap misadventure tale.