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Item - Love Is Not Constantly Wondering If You Are Making the Biggest Mistake of Your Life

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Series: Miscellaneous Works Published by Perfect Day Publishing
Author: Anonymous
Illustrator: Miller, Sarah
Date: 2011
ISBN: 0983632723 / 9780983632726
Length: 116 pages
jeremydouglass's Thoughts:

This intense confessional about alcoholism and destructive relationships is a truly unique gamebook -- there is nothing else quite like it. But many may miss out on it due to judging the book by its cover.

Any reaction to reading Love Is Not Constantly Wondering If You Are Making the Biggest Mistake of Your Life probably begins with its cover. The absurdly long title is presented in a playful cover design, such that the book at first appears to be titled The Biggest Mistake of Your Life -- a phrase that recalls Packard's Choose Your Own Adventure #100: The Worst Day of Your Life.

The book design, page layout, and cover and page art by illustrator Sarah Miller are all presented as a careful homage / parody of the iconic CYOA series, so that the whole package recalls other nostalgic send-ups such as Night of 1000 Boyfriends (2003) or Ocean of Lard (2005). This book, however, has almost nothing in common with those or other parodies beyond its design.

Love is Not ... is the wrenching confessional of a failed relationship between the anonymous author and his alcoholic girlfriend. The terse, compelling writing is presented a diary format, with each 1-2 page passage titled with a date during the 2002-2006 relationship. While the writing is almost entirely non-fiction, most passages end with gamebook-style choices that seems drawn from an entirely different book about an adventure on a planet of giants.

The choice text initially seems both out of place and arbitrary, as any choice will simply bounce the reader around to other pages of the diary. Compounding the strangeness is the Warning page at the beginning of the book. In a traditional gamebook, this page explains that the book should not be read straight through, and that choices matter. In Love is Not... the page explains that the book should be read straight through, and that choices absolutely do not matter.

And yet. Despite being encouraged to read in a straight line, like a novella, the choices are tempting, and tracing their paths through the book can be deeply rewarding.

The path narrative drifts through memories forward and backward in time. Patterns emerge, both in repeated events and as the challenges of the "ant planet" in the choice text mirror and mock the choices in the author's real life. Patterns also emerge as one "plays" the game of the relationship, seeking a happy ending, or even any ending at all. The wrong choices leave you stuck in a kind of temporal memory loop, doomed to rehash the same events over and over again. Only certain choices (or reading straight through without looking back) will allow the story to actually end. Sometimes, making the wrong choice is the right choice. Sometimes, losing is winning. It is an interesting take on trauma.

In its tone this book is more like Life's Lottery than anything else, but its structure path is closer to Hopscotch or even Nabokov's Pale Fire -- definitely not a classic gamebook shape with different contents. This in addition to it being creative non-fiction make it totally unique in the world of game books, and definitely worth reading.

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Users Who Own This Item: AlHazred, jdreller, jeremydouglass

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