1 out of 4 stars
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There and Back There Again is a really unique piece. It is essentially a collection of thoughts. It is organized into letters that are written to the reader, or perhaps someone else. I am still not sure. What I do know is that Andrew Alsup gives the reader a lot to ponder on, writing about topics such as privacy, technology, religion and others. I would say the title fits well because every topic seems to come back to these cowardly figures who harass Andy. One of these figures is named Chipmunk which strikes me as a metaphor for government. For instance, it is mentioned that Chipmunk might now be the FBI. Other times, there are complaints about a more cryptic they. Of course, maybe that is the point. This whole work could be a satirical piece on how harassment runs rampant in our world to the point that people go crazy trying to overcome it.
At this point, I am still not sure who the intended audience is. I would hope that the message isn’t as depressing as telling readers that they can’t get the better of a flawed system. One could take the message to mean: “Don’t believe every message that people want to shove down your throat.” I would even dare to say that the moral of Andrew’s shared thoughts could be that you need a strong support system to deal with a system that doesn’t care about you. One thing is for certain. This work is not for those who feel squeamish at colorful language, for such language can be found throughout, starting on page 4.
I liked that this book had a unique view to give. I interpreted it as the viewpoint of a man gone mad. Many parts of it reminded me of the rantings of a conspiracy theorists trying to argue how everything is related to a single focal point. I liked the educative analogies that were sometimes used. One that sticks out is the mention of Martin Luther and his 95 theses. This came up in an Orwellian situation where a former employer was said to be altering documentation, and here Andrew made the comparison of dissenters changing Martin Luther’s 95 theses to 45 instead, after the fact. These analogies made me feel the author was well-read.
I didn’t like the absence of certain details topped with the confusing ranting. I feel this story may have worked better as an autobiography told in the style of: “This a true story. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.” An actual story would lead somewhere and the issues could be talked in a more orderly fashion. I also disliked the use of language that I think of as texting slang. Lmfao feels off, even for a letter. I also found it silly when the spelling of curse words was sometimes partially hidden or traded for a special character while other times the words were spelled out in full. Upon deciding to use the word, I feel one should go all in, unless the goal is to capture the effect of an accent.
This work didn’t have the look of professional editing. A few times the grammar was off like, “I have been drug through the weeds…” I imagine a professional edit would have given a smoother transition between changing topics. However, I will say that I admired some of the logical points in it. In sum, I award this title 1 out of 4 stars.
There and Back There Again
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