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on July 02, 2011 :
I'm completely floored by this novel. I don't even know where to begin to describe just how much I loved it. James Lewelling's This Guy is a masterpiece of insanity. It is far too easy to fall into the many cliches of insanity, but Lewelling does an absolutely amazing job of presenting an insane cast and at the same time making the reader doubt their own sanity.
The plot of this guy is pretty simplistic, but the way that it is told is incredibly deep. The narrative has the same sort of feel Tristram Shandy. The dreamlike plot does a wonderful job of holding the reader's attention, and the reveals are all done so subtly that nothing feels out of place.
The characters are incredibly confusing, but not in a bad way. The confusion of who is who, and what they're names are plays remarkably well with the overall feel of the book. It's rare to find a book that is told in first person this well. All of the characters fill out bits of the human psyche in ways that are hard to express. The work is clearly filled with metaphors and allusions, but none of them feel forced. This is the kind of work a person could delve into looking for literary ideas, or a reader could read purely for enjoyment.
The theme of insanity, or more specifically sense of self, is what drives this story. What starts out as a simple story about this guy coming up with a plan for his neighbor, folds in on itself over and over again asking the question who is this guy's neighbor. Who is this guy? Who is the narrator? Where does a person's sense of self begin, and where does it end? The cast of characters interact with one another in ways that only further the questions. Nothing is ever really answered, but nothing really has to be.
This is the kind of book that everyone should read. It is an incredible work.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)