A nice Jewish boy reflects on his experiences with depression.
Evans initially positions himself as a 30-something descendant of the Borscht Belt. “I knew precisely what my future held,” he writes. “I would be a rabbi. I would be a learned Torah scholar who... would marry a Jewish woman (presumably one with a hairy mole on her face).” This approach provokes mild chuckles but little more. Growing up in the white-bread California suburb of Simi Valley, the author began wrestling with therapy during adolescence, due to “an epic battle of wills” with his overbearing parents. “My first therapist's name was Neil Diamond,” he writes, “but he didn't wear sequins, didn't bring me flowers, and most certainly did not turn on my heartlight.” Evans remained dismissive of the therapeutic process in his 20s, and focused on the accidental good fortune of a “hot blonde” wife and cushy job in advertising. In 2001, he was laid off abruptly, days before the 9/11 attacks. This juxtaposition of personal stress and national tragedy provoked the onset of more serious depression. By the standards of contemporary memoir, Evans’s “bottom” is less than impressive. He obsessed over porn, drank a lot and tried multiple antidepressants that interfered with his sexual functions—all of which seem like fairly universal rites of passage for white-collar men today. Over time, his experiences as a father and with his long-suffering wife began to improve, while his return to therapy (with a practitioner superior to “Neil Diamond”) allowed him to unpack his confused resentment over his upbringing, especially regarding the unique tribalism of American Jews. Unfortunately, the tone is overwhelmingly muddled and repetitive, and the narrative is riddled with the standard blog-influenced tactics of digression and incessant pop-culture references—as well as unpleasant flashes of juvenile misogyny.
Tedious and ultimately mediocre.