A biographical work of real fiction. A rant of candor. Maybe just an idiosyncratic novel. Whatever it is, under any other circumstances, Manifesto would seem like nothing more than a desperate, self-righteous attempt at capturing humanity. But it is real, it is simple (encased in a completely white cover without a spot of ink on it), and it is rare literary artwork that is nothing shy of brilliant.
The novel is promoted as anonymously authored, but a little digging on my part revealed its creator. I have agreed to respect his wishes to stay unidentified; he had this to say among other things: ”I do wish to remain anonymous. There are so many different reasons… I try to keep my life as simple as possible. I get to feeling so bad otherwise.” Those words seemed to come from the heart of a man who, on the phone, sounded sweet and nervously pleased to talk to me. However, that sentiment matched that of his work exactly.
One is almost required to understand the accompanying situation before reading this – the personality of this “anonymous” novelist, the absence of advertising (with the exception of a notorious red flyer sent to prospective readers and businesses). Any potential reader who picks this novel up must be prepared to let their mind ingest these words naturally and abstractly, which may be tough in a world where everything has to have easily understandable transition.
Manifesto accomplishes two things that books like James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces could not – using experimental format to show one man’s raw life. Opening up the blank casing, a very unapologetic page one sports nothing but black text that starts at the top of the page and small numbering printed on every bottom corner. There are no chapters and there is no chronology or even a plot. Words are broken up in lines or paragraphs and it continues as such for two hundred pages exactly without a break; not dumbed down, allowing the chance to experience truly innovative media.
The author himself accomplishes what thousands of writers spend lifetimes trying to depict honestly, some at the expense of their own sanity. He shows the nihilistic and existentialist thoughts suffered by America’s most broken malcontents. This gritty reality may alienate some readers, but for many it tugs at heartstrings and makes us wonder why we pushed our own parallel feelings to the backburner for the sake of fitting into society. It makes us question if we are fooling anyone with those efforts. It makes us really think why, and this book smartly doesn’t assume us incapable of making our own life assessment by offering morals or lessons meant to give us hope. The writing itself is completely bleak (a warning to the vulnerable), and the author basically tells us to find our own reason for living. Unlike most other literature, by the last sentence you are still wondering if he has ever found his.
This novel is far too radical and much too DIY to generate the explosion into mainstream popularity that Chuck Palahniuk experienced with Fight Club. It exhibits just as much talent and a lot of the same wandering notions, but because it is so exposed and real, it would shock most of the general public into not “getting” it. Nevertheless, those who it resonates with will remember Manifesto as the great revolutionary manuscript of their lifetime. Do yourself a favor; pick up a copy and ascertain if you have what it takes to be one of those remembering years from now.
Manifesto: A Novel