... fresh, original ... Blending humorous and witty takes on life’s idiosyncrasies with a raw and deeply human main character, Dicks pens the perfect between-the-holidays book ... Using sparse but vivid and immediate prose, Dicks unpacks the anxiety- and love-filled life of Dan Mayrock, and how he discovers the truth(s) about love ... Dan constantly strays from the realm of believability by choosing the least certain and most foolhardy ways to improve his situation, but through it all, he maintains a real sense of heart and earnestness ... a truly wonderful protagonist ... what makes him extraordinary is the reader’s raw, limitless access to the inner workings of his mind. Dicks writes with complete humility and grace, elevating ordinary Dan to someone you want to root for, even when you are grimacing at his choices. He is also deeply anxious --- and not just about his failing bookstore, but about his wife, his career path and so much more --- and the unique list format mirrors his anxieties in a way that makes the book feel totally immersive ... As you speed through these lists and bounce from subject to subject, your own heartbeat increases, and before you know it, you’re ready to make some anxiety-fueled lists, too. I truly do not know how he’s done it, but Dicks has crafted a book that feels a bit like a rollercoaster, with a pacing that is perfectly in tune with its main character’s emotions ... Because of the limits that lists present, Dicks has taken great care and effort to select every word carefully so that each and every one is packed with meaning. Even when Dan’s lists veer from the immediate plotline, they provide tons of depth into his character ... a lightning fast read. Poignant though they may be, Dan’s lists read very quickly, but I recommend you savor this one.
Dicks manages to create tension, pathos, humor, and some searing melodrama in a novel written entirely in lists ... Through lists, Dan’s rich, sympathetic voice shines, and as he organizes his opinions about music, his love of his wife, and his many vices and neuroses, he is funny and insightful. Like Benjamin Kunkel’s Indecision (2005) and Joshua Ferris’s To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (2014), this tale explores the struggles of a man attempting to navigate contemporary adulthood and his fear that he is unable to function like everyone around him. Often moving, sometimes shocking, always entertaining, this superbly crafted work emphasizes the incalculable variety of the novel form.
Once you get accustomed to the lists, it does feel like there’s narrative progression, even suspense ... Dicks is an amusing guy with a feel for life’s little annoyances ... Many of the deliberate repetitions — Daniel’s obsessions with penises and his wife’s laundry habits — are tedious ... You can breeze through a month quickly, or you could just tackle a list or two and call it a night.
... sketches surprisingly complex characters. Much like the famous six-word story often erroneously ascribed to Hemingway , these lists—and the silences they outline—conjure a tense world in which, no matter how hard Dan tries to gain control of his finances, his life, or his emotions, he continually gets stuck in simply recording the absurdities of life and making futile plans to become a hero to Jill. As the days pass, Dan’s lists reflect his increasing desperation, ratcheting up the tension until life throws a potentially devastating curveball at him that pushes him to reassess everything he had thought to be true ... A clever, genre-bending portrait of a man under pressure.
... a gimmick that can’t quite be sustained for the length of a novel ... Dicks has impeccable comedic timing and touchingly renders family dynamics, but the exhausting list format will fall flat for readers who don’t find Dan charming enough to justify it. This experimental work never quite manages to transcend the essential boringness of flipping through someone else’s notepad.