A MEMOIR OF NO ONE IN PARTICULAR: In Which Our Author Indulges in Nave Indiscretions, a Self-Aggrandizing Solipsism, and an Off-Putting Infatuation with His Own Bodily Functions

Daniel Harris, Author . Basic $24 (239p) ISBN 978-0-465-02844-3

While attempting to "use myself as a pretext for probing the banalities of life," Harris realizes that "an effete homosexual... may not, in the final analysis, be an ideal candidate for the starring role of Everyman," but forges ahead as "a kind of living camcorder" in "a Cartesian quest for absolutes" in physical existence. Yet Harris (The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture) is far more interested in the specifics of himself than in the generality of humanity: his teenage diaries, he tells us, are not "outbursts of uncontrollable emotions" but "are in fact complex literary acts"; he details his underwear fetish ("jockey shorts... last far longer than love affairs") and how he "stares into the toilet bowl after I poop." Despite the inoculation of the subtitle, the relentlessly smarmy and self-indulgent prose ("my disgust with the floor is intensified by one of the major obstacles my broom encounters: extension cords") becomes annoying, despite attempts at shock: "fucking for me revolves around a rigidly defined ritual based on the allegory of domination and submission." Such jolts deliver no human insight despite lengthy neo-psychoanalytic ruminations. The idea of reinventing, or reinvigorating, the memoir is terrific, but this is no Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/01/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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