When I was a kid, I had this friend, we'll call him Parker, who is, without a doubt, the smartest person I have ever known. During our high school years in Advanced Math, AP Calculus, AP Physics, he's the guy our teacher would leave in charge of the class when he was going to be out. Sure, we had a sub, because we had to have a sub, but the subs were never qualified to teach any of the material, so Sellers (our teacher) would leave Parker in charge, and the sub would just sit around doing... well, whatever.
For a number of years (starting in 4th grade, when Parker first came to my school), I was his only friend, because no one else could relate to him. It was so bad that, even though Parker was one of my best friends, my mom wouldn't let him over to my house, because he gave her the creeps because he was so "weird," and I was the only person that ever went to his house, because everyone else just saw the "weird kid." The fact that our teacher left him in charge of the class didn't help him any, especially since he couldn't teach. Not being able to relate to people gets in the way, no matter how smart you are.
For a while, none of this stuff mattered to Parker. He was less concerned with friends than with what was going on in his head. Of course, there are those times, especially in high school, when that's not enough anymore and you want to be liked, and Parker wasn't any different. Around our junior year, he started going to parties and things in a campaign to become popular or, at least, well liked. The whole party thing wasn't my thing, so some distance began developing between us.
The problem was that Parker was desperate to be liked. He'd never had many friends, and he wanted to be in the middle of it all. Once people began to realize just how desperate he was... well, things didn't go well. There started to be stories about him and people laughing in Calc when he'd come in. No one liked him, but they all thought he was great at parties because he'd do anything he was told to do. Like peeing on the lawn in front of everyone. Or stripping down, putting his underwear (that he'd just been wearing) on his head, and running down the middle of the street. And... other things.
It was painful to see this stuff happening to him. It's one of those crisis moments: talk to him or not? I talked to him. I told him that none of those people were his friends and that they were laughing at him behind his back. It was the only fight we ever had, the only time I heard him yell, and the last time we ever spoke. He told me I was lying, that they were his friends, and I was just jealous of how popular he was.
I guess he clued in to what had been going on once he got away to college, because, the first time the group of us (the smartest of the smart kids at our school, that Parker had been a part of before he decided to be "popular") got together after high school was over (probably Christmas our freshman years at college), he let us know that he wanted nothing to do with us or anyone from high school ever again, and he's done his best since then to make sure that that was the case.
Reading about Slim Dyson in The Sensationally Absurd Life and Times of Slim Dyson
made me feel like I was witnessing Parker's descent again. I wanted to smack Slim in the face and tell him to quit being stupid. It was painful. And it was hard to read. Part of me kept wanting to say, "Come on, no one is this stupid! I can't expect that they want me to believe this." Then I would remember Parker and sigh and keep reading. But it wasn't easy. Like I said, painful.
There's the part of the book that's about Slim as the hapless character just wanting to be liked and always believing the best about everyone, a decision he seems to be making because he can't deal with the alternative, and there's the part of the book that is a pretty direct metaphor of the homeless writer being a homeless writer--a writer without a publisher. That part of the book, I find clever. The idea of the independently published writer as being homeless is something I can identify with. And with that the idea of being "discovered" and, then, the publisher, also, only wanting to take advantage of you. No matter how much money they throw at you, it's only because they believe they are going to make tons more.
So there are pieces if the book that I really enjoy, especially the first half or so, and, taken individually, nearly all of the chapters are entertaining. Taking individually, I would never question any of it, but, as a whole, the simplicity of Slim began to wear on me, and I just wanted him to open his eyes. For a while, I even questioned his mental capacity. Maybe there was just something wrong with him... but, no, there's enough information within the story to show that it's more willful than anything else. And, again, that stuff took me back to Parker. Of course, the fact that it resonated the way it did shows the quality of the writing, even if it wasn't enjoyable for me to read.
The only real flaw I'd say the book has is the ending. It's abrupt and out of nowhere. Like a sudden 90 degree turn when you're running at full speed. Well, and the joint writing of the authors wasn't as flawless in this one as it has been in some of their other works. Basically, I'm pretty sure I'd be pretty close to accurate if I made two stacks of the chapters as to which one wrote which chapters. Neither were of less quality, but they didn't always mesh in style and, occasionally, a chapter would seem to "forget" information from the chapter directly preceding it.
Oh, and, because it's me, I should talk about the editing, which, also, wasn't as good as the other books I've read by Bryan Pedas and Brandon Meyers. Which is not to say that it was bad, because it was still miles ahead of 99% of the independently published stuff I've read, but it wasn't quite up to the level of their previous books.
It's a good book, but I'm still ambivalent about how I feel about it (if you go look at how I rate books, you'll better understand that comment). I think it's probably more accessible to the common reader than The Missing Link, but I didn't enjoy it as much. Still, it's much better than the average offering out there and is filled with comically absurd moments. It's definitely worth checking out.