Like many kids of my generation, I grew up on a steady stream of cartoon superhero shows: Spiderman, Batman, X-Men, you name it. I marveled at how badass they were and used to put temporary tattoos of Rogue on my ankle for gym class. To this day, there is just something comforting about the idea that there are masked superheroes out there, protecting humankind.
Andrew Kaufman’s novels spark that old flame for me. After reading his fabulous new book, Born Weird, I raced to the nearest Chapters I could find to purchase his backlist. I began with his first book, a novella called All My Friends Are Superheroes.
Published by the renowned Canadian publisher, Coach House, All My Friends Are Superheroes tells the story of Tom, an ordinary man who finds himself constantly surrounded in superheroes. Literally all of his friends, and even his wife, The Perfectionist, are superheroes. But on the night of Tom’s wedding, The Perfectionist’s jealous ex-boyfriend Hypno, hypnotists her into believing that Tom is invisible. Frustrated that everyone can see him but his wife, Tom watches as The Perfectionist mourns over his apparent disappearance. After a few heartbroken months pass, The Perfectionist has decided to use her powers to forget Tom. She will take a plane ride to Vancouver and when that plane touches down, Tom will be a figment of her imagination.
Desperate to make the love of his life see him again, we follow Tom through some of his most beloved memories as he attempts to craft a plan.
Kaufman creates a world to fall in love with. His superheroes are unlike the Batman-types we are used to. For example, The Projectionist can make you believe anything that she does and The Stress Bunny can absorb other people’s stress and make them feel completely relaxed. These ordinary-seeming people, have their quirks turned into superpowers. Also in Kaufman’s world, expressions become literal: broken hearts can be surgically mended and anxiety is an actual monster that can attack you.
I couldn’t recommend a more imaginative, tender read. All My Friends Are Superheroes is a book to own: beautifully bound with high-end paper and printed right here in Toronto at the Coach House office. Kaufman’s writing is addictive and one book will not be enough.
So let me finish by saying this..
Dear Friends: If you have never picked up anything by Andrew Kaufman, you are missing out. Please grab yourself a copy of All My Friends Are Superheroes, The Waterproof Bible, The Tiny Wife (sadly unavailable in Canada, but able to order off Bookfinder) or his newest, Born Weird. You will not regret it!
Stay tuned for my review for Born Weird, coming on the Indigo Fiction Blog next week!