The Reviewed: So You Know It’s Me by Brian Oliu
The Reviewer: Judy Clement Wall
Ten reasons why I loved Brian Oliu’s So You Know It’s Me:
1. I ordered it from Tiny Hardcore Press, and it’s so tiny, it fits in the pocket of my skinniest jeans. That’s not a requirement for a book, of course, but it is cool.
2. Missed connections in general – and Oliu’s mixed connections in particular – are full of “what if” magic. What if she’d turned, what if he’d spoken, what if they’d gone out for a felafel and talked about books and politics and love and global warming? Of course, if they did that, it would be some other kind of story. It wouldn’t be a missed connection, one of 45 missed connections that all fit into a book that fits into the pocket of my skinniest jeans. More magic.
3. I’m not gonna lie. This opening line, “Darling, in a sea full of crimson, you were the most crimson” makes me swoon.
4. I read most of So You Know It’s Me on a train. I was mesmerized by each almost-encounter anddid not look up until my stop, an hour after I boarded. Later, I liked the idea that maybe someone Ididn’t see saw me, and now they were somewhere missing me. Wondering “what if,” sweetly. Poetically. Craigslistily.
5. I love the way Oliu writes, how whimsy and heartbreak can dance through the same sentences, sentences that join together and jump off the page and lodge themselves in my brain like a half-remembered song lyric. Like this: “When I die…you will quote this. The words that I once said to you will mean more than they ever did when I was around, yet not around. The story about. The time when.”
6. It’s true that sometimes I see someone – on a treadmill, for instance, as Oliu did – and, for no reason at all, the sight of them makes me philosophical and nostalgic, and suddenly I’m remembering how Iplayed as a child “when exercise was part of existing.” And then I think about how we grow old and “become layered – ourselves burying ourselves, creating ourselves.” Only I don’t think it quite so gorgeously as Oliu does.
7. In So You Know It’s Me, the missed connection that begins “Make no mistake, this is about you” made me feel (which is not the same as believing) that it was about me.
8. This book made me see the world a little differently. For better or worse, I notice people more – on park benches, at stop lights, in the grocery store. I notice them not noticing me. I write them love letters in my head… which, I think is more better than worse.
9. Really, life is full of missed connections, isn’t it? It boggles my mind to think each one is a story – tiny, full of emotion, lives played out in an instant, ending before they begin.
10. Every missed connection in this book is so shot through with humanity, it’s hard not to feel… well… connected. And inexplicably hopeful. These days, I place a high premium on hope.
Judy Clement Wall’s short stories and essays have been published in numerous literary print journals and on some very cool websites like The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, Lifebyme, Smith Magazine, Beyond The Margins, We Wanted To Be Writers and Clamp. You can see more of her work and engage in her shenanigans at JudyClementWall.com. You can follow Judy on Twitter @jclementwall.