Mix David Foster Wallace with Patti Smith, Augusten Burroughs, and Karen Finley, throw in powders and pills, stuff it in a deep-dish pizza box, and you’re in the territory of compulsive blogger Boyle’s post-postmodern blockbuster.
“Feel like I’m about to vomit and I’m being watched and my execution is soon.” So writes sometime Vice columnist Boyle toward the end of this long, loping hyperextension of the “quantified self” or life-logging movement, by which every thought, every detail, every meal, every bed-wetting, every kiss, every bowel movement, every drink, every drug over the year 2013 gets recorded, “everything i do, think, feel, and say, to the best of my ability.” Oh, are there drugs and drinks, and oh are there all those other things, most of them definitively in the realm of the First-World problem. Xanax, Adderall, heroin, energy drinks, phenethylamine, doughnuts, pizza, zinfandel, kale, cocaine, and kombucha: Enough of that, and some weirdly surreal moments are wont to happen, as when Boyle, as if discovering language, writes, “ ‘bumpy fish’ is a code name for bumpy fish. and maybe that’s all you need to know.” Maybe. Probably. It stands to reason that living in Brooklyn while entertaining such a diet, staying up all night and sleeping all day, and spending your life on the keyboard might impede one’s financial progress, and so it is: “dad agreed to give me money for groceries and things,” she writes. “seems shitty of me. i’m 27 years old. i’m sick.“ Dad is always there to help, it seems, and so is Mom, while others in the chronicler’s life are less helpful, from the landlord demanding rent to “everyone who doesn’t floss regularly.” Still, Boyle’s log/blog, billed as a novel, is full of zeitgeist-y stuff that will puzzle future historians, punctuated by moments of millennial aspiration, self-direction, and exhortation, from “Do not fuck with me” to “hang up clothes/laundry.”
A stunt more than a literary achievement; not without merit but requiring more effort than most readers are likely to want to give.