Book Review: Waiting for the Man by Arjun Basu
by Arjun Basu
ECW Press, 2014
Dig into this novel to mine for rich insights into our human condition. Almost every page includes a thought, a turn of phrase, or a dreamy musing that will make you stop and say, ‘Huh.”
“The ultimate act of love is cleaning up after the object of your affection.”
“To me everything in the world that was possible and laudable and not laudable and not smart culminated in a T-shirt.”
This book is not plot-driven. To summarize: An advertising copywriter, Joe, sees a Man (that others can’t see) and follows his instructions. After sitting on his front stoop for a while, Joe goes for a drive until he ends up in another place. His main occupation in the second place is peeling fruit.
Not exactly a page-turner. But it is a brain cell-turner.
Joe assumes his place on his front stoop in much that same way that Eckhart Tolle assumed his place on a park bench. Men who suddenly and visibly opt out of society can’t help but search for deeper meaning in life—and attract attention while they’re at it. Joe becomes a media sensation and sets people around him into the inevitable human clambering for attention, for money, for their piece of the action. He becomes “both the story and the least important part of the story.”
“. . . success is like a pile of shit to a bunch of insects. Everyone wants to eat it, to play in it, to live a little.”
Even though Joe left his advertising job behind, his journey leads him full-circle back to advertising. He begins to see it as the engine of society, the “. . . way of telling the world you exist.”
“We crave narrative. We believe we are uninteresting without a compelling story. . . . A narrative validates us. It makes us tangible.”
Basu’s subtle humour and discerning assessments make this an enjoyable read—unless you’re looking for a page-turner.