Friday, March 14, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #72: Everything Is Going to Be Okay by Bruce Eric Kaplan

Even gift-book fables can have epic trilogies, I suppose, because this is the third book of the unlikely adventures of Edmund and Rosemary. It follows Every Person on the Planet, in which they threw an unusually crowded party in their small New York apartment, and Edmund and Rosemary Go to Hell, in which...well, you've probably figured that out by now.

The first two book were mildly twisted fables -- short, illustration-filled books that led to deflationary lessons suitable for those plagued by urban ennui -- and Everything Is Going to Be Okay continues in the same vein, as Edmund is unexpectedly asked to give the commencement address of an unnamed small college. There's no good reason for this; they assume he was asked because "everyone else was busy."

As usual in Kaplan's work, this gives rise to anxiety and unhappiness. All new ventures in Kaplan stories end badly, and all plans fail. So Edmund has immense trouble writing his speech, and then the speech itself goes wrong in a unique manner. Along the way, there are nuggets of curdled wisdom -- "I always thought being profound would be easier," he said, "I guess because it doesn't pay that well." or "Rosemary remembered her youthful angst with fondness. It was so much more fun than middle-aged angst." -- that lead up to the big lesson of the title.

Everything Is Going to Be Okay is somewhere in the undefined territory between being an actual inspirational gift book and being a parody of such a book: it's serious, but it has an essentially pessimistic, cynical view of life, which is the opposite of the usual inspirational drivel. If you like BEK's cartoons, this is like an extended riff -- not a collection of cartoons, but perhaps all of the backstory of one singular cartoon. If you don't like his work, and especially if you like inspirational stories that come in collections named after foodstuffs, you'll want to stay as far away from this as possible.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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