Thank you to author Francois Tremblay for providing me with a copy of his book in exchange for this honest review.
I previously reviewed author Tremblay’s She’s Found Her Mind, a satirical novel about a professional manic pixie dream girl and her pseudo romance. Tremblay has a voice for satire and the absurd. It’s a very tough genre to get right. Often, it comes across as either mean-spirited or it’s not obvious that it’s not serious and that could be offensive or just annoying. Have no fear, Self-Fixed Anguish is none of those things.
This new novel follows protagonist Neat (first name Neat, last name She, get it?) as she wakes up from her capitalist drudgery and sets out to find the meaning of life. Not so much the traditional grand answer to the question of all questions more of just any reason that existence happens at all.
She works harvesting land sponges for the personal use of everyone on the planet. The workers are required to listen to music in their headphones and one day she removes hers and is enlightened to the awful screaming these poor creatures make as they are slaughtered. From here she is determined to erase her own existence, she doesn’t want to kill herself, she wants to never have been in the first place.
Her journey is very nihilist and also touches on the lesser known philosophy of antinatalism. That is the idea that it is morally wrong to have children because it is an act of non-consent. I’ve been previously aware of this, I even know a mod on the antinatalist subreddit personally. I can’t say they’re wrong either. I didn’t ask to be born into this nonsense. Here I am, writing blog posts for tens of dollars a year while my full time job makes money for some rich bastard while I try to enjoy the few hours a week I have free but can’t afford to do the things I want to do. Then my parents who brought me into this mess don’t help me live it?! Rant aside, life is stupid.
Self-Fixed Anguish recognizes how very stupid this whole situation is and it plays with the boundaries of what life really is. The book gets meta at times and the characters in the book are no longer in the world but in the book itself. Who’s to say an all powerful author isn’t in charge of our mundane stories right now?
At one point the book even places us within its pages and becomes a choose your own adventure novel. I found this section highly creative and very funny. I did my best to stay within the parameters and only read for the choices I made but I can’t say I didn’t skim some other sections (please don’t come after me grand author).
I wasn’t sure how Self-Fixed Anguish would end, however I thought it would end was not the way it did end. I’m glad though because I was very pleased as I shut the back cover.
This kind of humorous novel is certainly not for every reader but if you like this kind of silly and tongue in cheek humor mixed with a healthy dose of modern philosophy I can almost guarantee you’ll enjoy Self-Fixed Anguish.
5/5 sponges 🧽🧽🧽🧽🧽
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