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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City

I couldn't remember when I picked this book up what exactly I signed up for. Was it AIDS? The economy collapse? New York City? So much happened in 2009 it is hard to remember. (Am I even old enough to say that? Yes. Yes, I am.) This is Choire Sicha's Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City

John is a New Yorker. He has recently graduated with student loans and is working at a large financial firm. 2009 was a hard year. Layoffs were happening like clockwork. Neighborhoods were changing before our very eyes. The Mayor was trying to stay around. Friends were coming, friends were going. John has an active dating life, and friends galore. As he moves through a pivotal year, friends come and go, dates come and go, and John falls in and out of love. Life gets complicated and life remains simple. The city changes and the city remains the same.

Honestly, I am unsure how I feel about this book. While I would say that I enjoyed it, I also felt that there were times where I couldn't quite figure out the point of it. I think this has more to do with me than the book though, and my lack of desire to relive my 20's in any way that comes close to being palpable. I was there, and still am in some ways. Making so little money. Owing on student loans. (I am thankfully free of this one.) Having pennies in the checking account. Going out, drinking, doing whatever to get the mind off of it. Being indecisive. Being young. It's all good, and we should all do it once. But I'm so happy to be on the other side of 30 it's ridiculous. I don't pine for the "good ol' days." I didn't feel one way or the other for the characters, except Diego. Like John, I did not like Diego. You probably won't either. Then again, he wasn't written to be likable. He was written to represent that boyfriend of your friend who is just a jerk. And he is spot on.

I loved the writing style, the storytelling function that was used here. It was arguably fourth person, in that it went beyond just talking about the characters and dove into a very meta-language. It talked about the story as if it were in the distant past, not just six years ago. Details were obscured by veiled references, but if you pay attention to the world around you then it was easy to pick out the details. It was really fantastic reading it from my perspective and taking in all that happened that year. It was quite a doozy. It was a hard year. We all made choices, and since I was aaaallllmmmmoooost the same age as the main characters, it was easy to relate to them. Shacking up with a partner, even if you don't know him or her well, was and still is easy to do in New York City where the rents are high and the space is small. The storytelling device used for this piece makes it worth a read. 

For purchase below. 

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