Review: I Am My Own Betrayal (and happy birthday Guillaume Morissette)

I want to call this nu-lit (new lit?), or I guess you could call it alt-lit too – a very contemporary collection of poems and short stories that are as wry as they are funny as they are bleak.  Written by first-time author (and fellow Concordia Creative Writing-er) Guillaume Morissette and published by art-publisher Maison Kasini in Montreal.

I know(ish) Morissette as a social media presence mostly. We met at a sexy zine launch in University where he had written a sexy poem and I was one of the “models” in the centrefold (true story).  By the time he rolled into writing classes, I had already decided I wasn’t a writer writer and more of an academic vagrant opinion person, so our paths never crossed much after that. And now he has a book and I feel like I know him all the more because of it.

When I googled the cover image, I found a lot of pictures of girls with the book by their faces, so I continued that review trend.

When I googled the cover image, I found a lot of pictures of girls with the book in their faces, so I decided to continue that movement.

He might be the saddest writer I’ve ever read and I think that is because he has gift wrapped the 20-something experience and all of its self-aware, egocentric loneliness in a clean bit of typesetting and handed it to me. He also might be the most honest. The story of an internet friend-turned real friend-turned lover-turned stranger, the idea that a retweet means more than most other things, social self-consciousness,  emotional penises… all of which I can relate to. Minus the penises. Though I suppose my vagina might have it’s own distinctive persona too, given the chance.

His style is sometimes unpolished, with sentences and one-off ideas that float in and out without anchoring, I thought it mirrored the fast and impatient habits of our current communication methods. 140 (intellectual) characters or less. That being said, I really like his one-offs. They’re really weird and oddly reflective. It’s a lot like reading his tweets, or seeing his info graphics, just this time they’re collected in one place.
Hyper aware of expressing himself, yet also seemingly despising the whole thing, Morissette often remedies with self deprecation (I have girly arms and I mean it).  He doesn’t hide or ignore the social territory of the world wide web – he embraces it and it becomes a common theme in his writing that makes it both topical and relatable. I Am My Own Betrayal often feels like I’ve hacked into the author’s Facebook inbox or IPhone notes and pulled out all of his secrets. I had no idea someone could be “good” or “bad” at the internet, and yet careers are made out of it and Morissette’s work is a perfect translation of that. The internet is where everything matters anyways, right? And the irony of that is never lost in I Am My Own Betrayal. Even the title glows like LED.

Anyways, happy birthday Guillaume! Now that I’ve read your book, I want to be internet friends-turned-real friends. Maybe someday that will happen.

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