Did you have a nice time with that boy? Logo Daedalus's novel: SELFIE, SUICIDE
What better place for an existential crisis than on an internet date?
Every internet date I ever went on felt like its own little existential crisis, anyway.
Selfie, Suicide: or Cairey Turnbull’s Blue Skidoo is a short novel by Twitter personality Logo Daedalus, a maybe 26-year old writer who went to college in New York City and now lives somewhere in Texas (according to the last time I heard him talk about it on a podcast). If you know of him, there’s a decent chance it’s because he’s a regular guest on the podcast of an even bigger Twitter personality, Kantbot (who you might know from the documentary TFW: No GF, by new director Alex Lee Moyer).
I read it.
Here’s what I think: It’s good.
The book takes place in like the not very distant future or maybe just a hyper-present. It’s effectively the life story of a just under 30-year old man who has largely carved out a quiet niche for himself as a VR pornographer, but is prone to bouts of severe existential crisis.
The main motif of the book is one date with a girl he met on an app over the course of one day, a day in which he reflects back on all the major events of his life.
What struck me
Cairey’s unrealized artistic fixation made me envy him.
I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the main character, Cairey, wanted to be an artist but he didn’t have much of a conception of what that meant.
He taught himself to draw at a young age and one of the only ways he was accepted in school was for his ability to make pornographic drawings for people that they would buy off of him.
He wasn’t particularly wanted socially and he wasn’t particularly wanted at home, but his parents would take him each summer to a lake house and in the woods around that lake he could let his imagination roam free.
The adventures he had with a mysterious little friend there would inform the main symbols of his artistic output. He became fixated on a particular land in his mind that consisted of a knight, a princess, a wizard and a dragon. The wizard was evil and had destroyed a kingdom, but if they could get their hands on one certain magical artefact they would be able to defeat him and restore the princess’s utopia.
So here’s what I envied: He was an artist that had this specific obsession to inform his artistic output. This felt like it could have been a really fertile ground to build from.
I have an artistic bent myself but there are a million things I would like to do and make and deal with. I’m not fixated by one set of imagery. That would make it all so easy. You could unpack it forever.
Anyway, he doesn’t.
The book teases you over and over about this moment in Cairey’s not so distant past where he had a particular freakout and became institutionalized for a while. When you finally reach it, I have to say: I was very impressed by how Daedalus built up to this reveal. When you got there, though? It was rich satire and a revelatory moment of character that just tied the story together with a deep blue bow. Really really good. It made you feel acutely for this young man’s suffering.
But it also seems to nod to some unstated subtext: Cairey failed to pursue his dream because he never got the kind of affirmation he needed to keep going. He let himself get frustrated and stymied by the world.
Over the course of the story he conceives of two great works based on those childhood adventures and these fixate some part of his mind. You get the sense that if he had just gone ahead and traveled the road of those creations, things might have been quite different for him.
I wish I could find more discussions of this book out there by the author. I can’t find any good ones, even though Daedalus likes to go on podcasts. I don’t know what I’d get out of it, but I just want to hear him talk about the crazy way it ends and all the things that were just on the edge of happening and how he felt about the fact that those things did not happen.
If you like a novel with a tight little story that makes a nice commentary on the absurd in this moment, Selfie, Suicide won’t be a bad way to drop $9.99.