“What would make this perfect?”
I read the description for this book and was instantly captivated by the premise of the magical blending in with the everyday:
All Tom’s friends really are superheroes.
There’s the Ear, the Spooner, the Impossible Man. Tom even married a superhero, the Perfectionist. But at their wedding, the Perfectionist was hypnotized (by ex-boyfriend Hypno, of course) to believe that Tom is invisible. Nothing he does can make her see him. Six months later, she’s sure that Tom has abandoned her.
So she’s moving to Vancouver. She’ll use her superpower to make Vancouver perfect and leave all the heartbreak in Toronto. With no idea Tom’s beside her, she boards an airplane in Toronto. Tom has until the wheels touch the ground in Vancouver to convince her he’s visible, or he loses her forever.
Honestly, I’m amazed with the author’s brain for coming up with each of the peculiarities in here. Superheroes include: the Couch Surfer (“Empowered with the ability to sustain life and limb without a job, steady companion or permanent place of residence”), the Falling Girl, the Shadowless Man, the Inverse (“Shake the Inverse’s hand and the exact opposite of your life will flash before your eyes”), The Projectionist, Hypno… and with the addition of an anxiety monster appearing at the door when, you guessed it, you’re feeling anxious (“There are two ways to get rid of an anxiety monster, my friend – you either have a bath or a nap.”).
This humorous love story between a normal man and a super-heroine, The Perfectionist, explores the power of ignoring someone and how it can drive them crazy or close to it… Which I found incredible because I had just recently talked about this exact premise and how nothing is quite as hurtful as ghosting someone out of the blue. All My Friends Are Superheroes is both silly and serious, which is quite a feat to concur in writing. Andrew Kaufman definitely succeeded, though, in my eyes.
Bonus points for making this feel like a short story, since it was a lot of fun to read I never noticed the page numbers changing while reading, and also because the book itself is on the slimmer side.
And the fact that there were stories inside of stories also enveloped me further into the book. I loved in particular this love story between two invisible people, who are painted in different colors (blue and orange) to remain visible to the outside world:
(It’s long but definitely worth the read.)
“Then one day, a Wednesday, the Blue Outcast worked late at the call centre. He waited for the 6:04 streetcar. Normally he got the 5:15. This is where he saw her. She was hard to miss. She was orange.
The Blue Outcast was in line for the front doors of the streetcar. The Orange Exile was exiting through the rear doors. They made brief eye contact, but nothing more.
The Blue Outcast changed his routine. He took that streetcar, the 504, at 6:04 every day. The Blue Outcast and the Orange Exile noticed each other more and more. They made eye contact for longer periods of time. The Blue Outcast made sure to be at the end of the line for the front doors of the streetcar. The Orange Exile made sure to be first out the back doors. They began waving to each other as they passed on the street. They still hadn’t chatted or exchanged names. That didn’t seem to be the point.
Six weeks after they’d become aware of each other, a thunderstorm rolled across the city. The rain backed up the storm drains. Lightning struck close to the Blue Outcast’s call centre. It was 7:30. He’d missed the 6:04. He was the only one in the office. The sound boomed through the room. He looked out the window to see if there was any damage.
At that exact moment, the Orange Exile was looking out the window of her apartment. The call centre and the Orange Exile’s apartment were directly across from each other, on the second floors of three-storey buildings.
The Blue Outcast looked at the Orange Exile. Lightning cracked again. She put her index finger in her mouth. She pulled it out. It wasn’t orange any more. It was invisible. She held it up for the Blue Outcast to see.
The Blue Outcast cried. His tears cut streaks of invisibility down his face. He stepped back from the window. He undressed. Naked, he left the call centre. He walked to the ground floor, stepped into the rain and looked across the street where orange feet and orange legs were standing in an orange puddle.
They stood in the rain. The Blue Outcast looked up at the sky and held out his arms. He let rain fall on his face. He looked down at his hands and didn’t see them. He looked back across the street and couldn’t see the Orange Exile.
Neither of them has been seen since.”
This was riveting.
With plenty of heart and more than a little humor, All My Friends Are Superheroes has me intrigued to check out other works by Kaufman in the near future.
Oh, and I also listened to this next song on repeat while reading, thanks to the most recent Skam update: