You Clever Comma Talented Comma Consistently Funny Idiot

You Comma Idiot by Doug HarrisWe’re pleased to start the year off with a burst of acclaim for Doug Harris’ YOU COMMA IDIOT!

Calling the book “consistently funny,” The Globe and Mail elaborates:

The book is written in second person, which is initially off-putting, but ultimately successful. The perspective ends up pulling the thread tightly throughout the story. Harris makes you be Lee Goodstone. It is not comfortable. It is downright awkward. Lee has so many flaws it’s sometimes painful to be inside his head. He tries hard to be shallow and mostly succeeds. But, for an emotionally stunted party guy, this self-professed loser saves himself by virtue of the fact that he can really tell a story. He’s a lowlife with some self-awareness, which he ignores whenever it suits him. He’s smarter than most of his friends, so his observations of them are fairly amusing. This time in his life is an interesting one, and I found myself manipulated into not exactly liking him/me, but certainty empathizing and occasionally rooting for him/me.

The Hamilton Spectator says:

Debuting novelist Doug Harris has crafted a whippet-quick, greasy read in You Comma Idiot, and it starts with a believable group of characters — Johnny’s older brothers, who are big on the club scene; Baby, Honey’s listless sister; Your Dealer, a drug kingpin given to philosophical ranting; single mom Stacey and son Zach (or “Ack!” to Lee); and a low-rent posse intent on leaning in on Lee’s hash dealing. The author also does a splendid job in depicting in minute detail the fading jewel that is Montreal. [He is] a clever wordsmith/observer of the underengaged and slothful.

A reviewer at Dooney’s Cafe is obviously as disappointed as we are that the book didn’t take home either of the Quebec Writers Federation awards it was nominated for:

If you want to know what’s gone toxic in Canada’s prize-driven novel writing industry—aside from the fact that it has become little more than just an industry—look no further than this novel by 30-something Montreal writer Doug Harris. I don’t mean this as a slur on Harris or YOU comma idiot. I mean that it probably wasn’t in serious contention for any of the prizes, and that it should have been.

YOU comma Idiot is a well-written book by a talented writer, and both are more entertaining and relevant than any of the books that won Canadian literary prizes in 2010 or their authors. Harris’ characters are more nuanced and authentic than you’ll find in the prize winners, and what they’re about—the vast demographic of the young-and-demoralized at the bottom of urban Canada’s dogpile—is, page-by-page more quickening and alert and uncomfortable.  It’s a book full of surprises, some of them uncomfortable, a few uplifting, none plot-driven or arbitrary, and there’s absolutely no navel lint clouding the view.

I wish there were more novels like it.

You tell ’em, brother!

Lastly, January Magazine chose YOU COMMA IDIOT as one of the best novels of 2010, putting it in the company of Freedom and Wolf Hall:

I have long been a sucker for the sort of fiction that might be known as lad lit, unless there was a better name for it, which there is not. To be honest, though, Doug Harris’ You Comma Idiot did not necessarily hit me as such when I first picked it up. In fact, I wasn’t quite sure just what it was. I knew only one thing: I couldn’t put it down. Small-time Montreal drug pusher Lee Goodstone is the idiot that title refers to. Lee is coasting along slacker-drug-pusher style when a series of events pushes his life into a higher gear than he’s entirely comfortable with. Debut author Doug Harris is a filmmaker and maybe some of that cinematic mojo shows up in You Comma Idiot, a book which seems long on both visuals and dialogue. But Harris’ approach to novel writing, while novel is also very tight. You don’t always know where you’re going, but the ride is a whole lot of fun.

Congratulations, Doug!


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