My Holiday Gift to You: The Funniest Book I’ve Ever Read

“You’re like the outsider of the gang. Not outsider-outsider. But I mean like, like Outsider Art. You know, like cute, sweet, weird. Like those artists who build towers in their backyard out of, like, TV dinner trays or who scratch the entire Bible into a bar of soap with their fingernail or who paint a mural of Imelda Marcos with chocolate pudding and end up in mental institutions. I mean like not obviously insane but more like all your efforts may not get you anywhere, may not be fully embraced by the public, but you’re gonna just do it anyway, no matter what. And that’s just great. You’re like the outsider in that sense!” (pages 2-3)

When I was thirteen I read The Underminer: Or the Best Friend Who Casually Destroys Your Life by Mike Albo with Virginia Heffernan and from that point on my life wasn’t the same. It was, and still is, unlike any other novel I have ever read. The entire story is told in a 2nd-person narrative perspective, a type of address that makes you the protagonist to whom the unnamed Underminer is speaking. Every insult lobbed at the main character is a jab at you, which is an extremely effective device. Each line is a spear pointed right at you and the linguistic implement is always coated in metaphoric poison, just to be sure that the attack does its cruel and absolutely hilarious duty.

I have either bought the novel or lent it to countless friends over the course of the past decade, particularly at the end of junior high and through high school. I like to think of the book as the glue that continues to connect me to the vast network of friends to whom I introduced the story. I implore you: read The Underminer and know what it is to be excited by great storytelling that never lets up for a moment.

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