Ms. Hen had first heard of Rob Roberge when she went to a reading at AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) in 2013. She went to a bookstore to see someone she knew from graduate school, and Mr. Roberge was reading also. She was so impressed by his reading that she bought his novel, THE COST OF LIVING. She read it and loved the novel about mental illness, because she is a hen who likes to read those types of things, for reasons she will not disclose right now.
She had read about this memoir when it first came out, and was curious. She finally got around to it, and wow! She doesn’t know if she’s ever read a book like this.
The entire memoir is written in second person, which is unusual. There aren’t many entire books written in this point of view. Instead of saying “I” or “he” the author chooses to write “you,” which gives the book a more intimate feeling, as if the author is writing a letter to himself. Ms. Hen is a fan of writing in this style, but she does not know if she could handle writing an entire book like this.
Another aspect of this book which is unique that it is written in short vignettes, all out of chronological sequence. At first, Ms. Hen thought this was jarring, but then she got used to it. It paints the picture of a man whose mind is scattered, and whose life is all over the place, and does not know what is happening to him a lot of the time.
This memoir is about a man who has drug addiction, bipolar disorder, and memory problems. He is told he is losing his memory from all the concussions he’s had in his life. He lives a wild life of sex, drugs, and rock n roll, outrageous parties, and traveling around the country, and lying about his life and the scars on his body. But most of all, he lies to himself.
He is a musician and a writer, and has had major psychotic episodes and does not seem to get better. Some people with bipolar disorder can recover, and appear to be normal, but this author does not. Ms. Hen feels sorry for him, but not too sorry. He has lived an adventurous life, unlike some people Ms. Hen knows. Ms. Hen doesn’t think he wrote this memoir to have people feel sorry for him, or to convince people into thinking he’s cool; she believes that he wrote this to help himself remember his life before he loses his memory, and is not the same person anymore.
Ms. Hen does not think this memoir would be an appropriate book for delicate hens to read, but Ms. Hen herself is used to reading difficult books. She liked this book, but it made her think about how truly screwed up some people can be, and it made her pause to consider whether or not she’s happy with her own life.