Read: December 5-9, 2019
5 Problems with Lying
1. We lie most often to the people we love.
2. There is no greater shame than getting caught in a lie.
3. A lie often requires additional lies, making it impossible to ever come clean.
4. Liars are the worst human beings.
5. Lies always cover up the worst parts of you.
How liars with the best intentions are like the owners of every iteration of Jurassic Park
They never set out to hurt anyone.
They operate with enormous hubris.
Denial both perpetuates and intensifies the problem.
The situation inevitably gets worse and worse as time goes by.
The end is never pretty.
1. Yes, that’s how this entire book is written.
2. No, it doesn’t get old or tiresome or start to feel overused. In fact, you’ll probably end up wishing you could read more books written like this.
3. But you’ll know if you did, they’d feel like cheap rip-offs of this great idea.
4. Some time back Daniel Mayrock’s therapist wanted him to keep a journal, making lists about his life/likes/thoughts was the compromise they reached. Now, this is how he processes things in his life, tracks ideas, and even occasionally plans things (including incredibly stupid things that even he realizes that he shouldn’t be planning).
5. A year ago, Daniel quit his job as a teacher to open a bookstore.
6. The bookstore is struggling, and he’s losing money
7. The lying that he’s focused on in that quotation above (and throughout the book) is primarily focused on that—Daniel’s lying to his wife to the extent she thinks they’re turning a profit
8. Other things that Daniel lies to Jill about include: his interest in/preparedness for having a baby (not just about the financial strain this would be, but that’s a big chunk of it); and the amount of jealousy he has toward his wife’s first husband, who died young.
9. The book contains the cutest authorial cameo this side of the stand-alone novels that Brad Parks has been putting out lately.
10. This guy is so addicted to Little Debbie Snack Cakes, I’m beginning to wonder if the frosting is laced with nicotine.
11. We don’t get to know Jill very well, because this book is about what’s going on in Daniel’s mind, with a focus on his issues, not the people around him. We know she has trouble with the principal at her school, that she really wants a baby, is still in love with her dead husband—and is apparently crazy about Daniel (not that he’s great at seeing it).
12. The other big thing we learn about her is that she is really bad at putting away clothing after it’s been laundered.
13. I mentioned earlier that Daniel plans something incredibly stupid, with the goal of helping finances. It is incredibly stupid, but along the way, he unintentionally makes a friend. My sole complaint with this book is that we don’t get to spend more time with this friend. Thankfully, we get enough to enjoy him.
14. I spent a lot of time thinking this plan was a fantasy/daydream kind of thing that he was indulging in—and liked it. When I realized (later than I should have) that Daniel was serious about it, I worried that this would ruin the book for me. It didn’t, so I’m glad I didn’t give up on it.
15. You’d think that given the unique way this book is written in that you’d speed through it in an afternoon.
16. You’d be wrong—it’ll take you about as long as any other 350-page book would take to read. You end up having to think a little bit more about the words than usual to piece together the story from the snippets given in the lists. (this is not a complaint, it’s an observation)
17. This is one of the funniest books I’ve read this year. But it’s not all about the laughs—there’s brutal honesty, there’s the inherent ugliness of jealousy, the despair of hopelessness, Daniel’s self-loathing at lying to his wife . . . Daniel’s a great, flawed, human character that you can’t help but root for (including rooting for him addressing some obvious character flaws).
18. I remember in a Creative Writing Class in College spending about 40 minutes going over the rules/strategies involved in using lists in fiction. I’m pretty sure that Dicks breaks half of them—and the book is better for it. I’d love to discuss this book with that instructor. (Unlike a lot of what I read, I can see her enjoying this book and appreciating the craft). The execution is perfect—and it’s easy to tell that, if it wasn’t this would’ve been a disaster of a novel.
19. No, I did not sit in my car weeping while reading the end of this book.
20. If the eponymous title was Thirty-Six Truths . . . I might have. I probably would have. (It might have only taken 25 truths)
21. I’ve been telling myself for years that I needed to pick up another Matthew Dicks novel, and I’m so glad that I did and that it was this one. It’s one of my favorite reads of 2019.
This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase from it, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are my own.