[Review] Diary of an Oxygen Thief by Anonymous

Readers will have an easy time hating and simultaneously pitying the first-person narrator of this short work of fiction. As difficult as it might be to forget that the book isn’t a memoir, the publisher asserts that this book is indeed a work of fiction.

The novel is a disturbingly honest look into the life of a man who proclaims, “I liked hurting girls” in the first line. Not surprisingly, at only 150 pages, this opening hook snags the reader in quickly to the short work. The author, who is listed as anonymous, seems to sit down with the reader and chat about his various exchanges with women, both awkward and horrific. Originally self-published in early 2016, the book was picked up by Simon and Schuster a few months later after sales took off.

For the first half of the book, I was left wondering how on earth another woman recommended this book to me. The revolting way the narrator nonchalantly talks about emotionally destroying women left me reading with my hand over my mouth in shock. However, the narrator gradually begins to reveal that there is more to him than someone who just emotionally destroys women; he’s also someone struggling with the metaphorical scars from his own tormentor.

Literary critic Richard Nash touts the book as “F. Scott Fitzgerald for the iPad generation.” No doubt the connection between the two authors is the use of an anti-hero who makes the reader question if they are a terrible person for actually feeling sorry for them. However, the comparison of the two writers begs the question how much of the novel resembles Fitzgerald in his seeming inability to write anything that isn’t extremely autobiographical even if it is billed as fiction?

Autobiographical or not, the book obviously fills a whole in the fiction market. Though the book is somewhat predictable and simplistic, it is definitely not like any I’ve ever read before. In a time where it seems like nearly every novel steps on the toes of the already written, I can admire a book whose originality sets it apart.

Featured image courtesy of Deadline.com.

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