Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Mister Master Exacerbation by Danger Geist

So, in college, I used to spar in religious talks with this guy I met at an extracurricular roundtable-type discussion. He’s a great dude, though he’s politically and religiously the opposite of me. Also, he’s written two great books, and I’m about to talk about his second.

He might hate to hear this, but his second book is even better than his first (and his first was good).

It’s called, Mister Master Exacerbation: My obsessive quest to uncover the final compulsion, and how my porn use got me fired from work, kicked out of school, banned from my field, separated from my wife, and warped me into an animal-abuser, a fugitive, and an all-around villain. I intend to write this review with minimal spoilers because I believe you should go out and buy this book.

It’s a true story about a terrible, terrible year with creative and fictionalized enhancements (all the changes from the truth he lists in the back, so it’s very transparent). In it, he gives a first person telling of himself as a total villain. He does some awful stuff, and he owns up to it. Most of it is because he has a mental disorder (OCD), and while that might not make him without sin, it does make you sympathize with why he acts so irrationally.

This book is really brave. For one thing, his OCD, who turns out to be a major character in the story, really doesn’t want him to talk about his OCD. So, writing it must have been a battle to begin with. For another, who wants to confess publicly the worst things you’ve ever done? Not me!

However, from a religious standpoint, it’s a brave work because depicts a Christian voice that is real. An imperfect person, a sinner. Not a preacher. His OCD is a type that specializes in religion. It obsesses on faith, so to speak. He makes the sign of the cross over and over to satiate his OCD. He can’t read the Bible without immense struggle. His OCD tells him that if he doesn’t walk through doors over and over that he will send his family, even his dog, to hell. Some readers might ask: If not for his OCD, would he even be religious? Isn’t this book evidence that religion stems and is nurtured by mental disorders? Wouldn’t he be happier without religion? Doesn’t he show that the voice of God he occasionally hears might actually be just another face of the troll?

I’m not answering those questions, but it’s interesting to think about in terms of his character in the narrative. Danger is brave for sharing these truths that he went through, and he doesn’t beat around the bush with them. He confronts them, truly, without having a definitive answer and accepts that. That’s very respectable, especially in a world filled with Christian (human) voices that attempt to sound all-knowing and overly confident. Danger is a Christian voice for anyone, even from other philosophies/ideas. There can be nothing more inviting and productive to bridging dialog between groups than acknowledging your own weaknesses.

Most of my criticisms took care of themselves throughout the reading process. The cover of the book, which features a big naked treasure-troll, for one, is cleverly explained in the end. (no spoilers) Love it! I don’t remember him talking about his OCD in his first novel (maybe he did? Donno!), and that irked me until I realized that his troll likely didn’t even allow him to talk about it and also that covering up and shying away from showing other people the symptoms is a major theme near the end. When the POV flops to another person, the writing style/voice doesn’t change much, but it’s not that long and concludes fine.

Really, the big criticism I have is how he talks down to his wife and makes her feel bad for having had sex before their marriage. He says things like he forgives her for it, which made me cringe a bit. However, credit where credit is due, his wife chose him for who he is, and also Danger acknowledges that he’s the one with the issue, not her.

And although he does some bad stuff, readers will likely pick up that he’s actually a good person in his heart. He beats his dogs, because of a disorder. He cusses out his wife, because of a disorder. The main event that plunges the story into motion is his porn use, not having to do with his OCD, and what’s interesting is how un-noteworthy it is. Most men use porn. So, to see something so small blow up can is unnerving.
She’s the hero of the story, if Danger paints himself a villain.

But yeah, this book is great, and what makes it great is that it’s a brave step knee-deep into the mud. It’s confession and redemption. It’s a Christian voice that doesn’t paint himself as above anyone else, but as a sinner seeking a return to God’s plan.

Also, read it, but read the “prequel” to it first. Great work, Danger!

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