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Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Awaken Your Perfect Self: How to Become Better than Everybody Else by Brian Haigh

Awaken Your Perfect Self
How to Become Better than Everybody Else
Brian Haigh
Brian Haigh has a special genius for titles. The sequel is The Road to Hell is Paved with Kitty Litter: The Hunt for Hoenfhmfjn.

The narrator finds Jim Hoenfhmfjn on the internet and, moved, decides to write his story. The narrator follows Hoenfhmfjn, and winds up footing this bill and that as Hoenfhmfjn teaches the way to have other people buy stuff for them, to make others do the work for you. Eventually, the narrator does Hoenfhmfjn's teaching for him while he rakes in the money and doesn't pay the narrator, who winds up in the LA county jail.

It's a send-up of self-help gurus (and possibly the rich one pecent as the cover may suggest), some of whom Haigh may feel create a sense of self-worship. Hence, the drive to be better than everyone, step on the backs of others to reach the top.

This title sold 10,000 copies on Amazon, which may be due to the title (and cover) as readers ranked at 2.3 stars. Several questioned the validity of the high and low rankings, which I'm inclined to agree with. It's a decent entertainment. Possibly a number felt cheated, thinking this would be an actual self-help book; possibly other readers felt it wasn't as funny as the title promised.

I had expected a hilarious send-up, one joke after another, but the story makes it clear early on, that it is a narrative and not a joke book.  Nonetheless, one of two improvements might have made this better: 1) more jokes (the teachings are funny but telegraphed in the titles, muting their humorous context), 2) stronger narrative structure (through character and/or dramatic changes). The narrator could have started to figure out he was a sap, and Hoenfhmfjn could have sneakily zapped the narrator back on the path each time. Or some other development to let narrative flow through different channels. But it's a solid entertainment for a dollar.

In the sequel, Haigh frees the narrator from jail to chase down Hoenfhmfjn.

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