For anyone who’s ever felt like they’re slowly drowning in a pool of abandoned dreams and self loathing, Mickey is a drinking buddy and a good companion. Published by Chicago-based Curbside Splendor Publishing, Chelsea Martin’s novella tells the story of a 20s-ish girl recovering from a failed relationship, rejection by her own mother, and the gradual erasure of career dreams. I call this book a novella because it’s not long enough to be a novel, and it has a cohesive narrative and plot progression so it seems more like a work of fiction than prose poetry.
Mickey is made up of vignettes that chronicle our protagonist’s slow spiral into crap-dom and nearly a quarter-life crisis, though I think she pulls herself out before any tacky epiphany or turning point is necessary. Instead the book trails off in the end, we realize she’s just going to move on with her life and stop wallowing in her unemployed, friendless singlehood. The cynic in me appreciated this ending because it was so very lifelike. It’s a more subtle and nuanced happy ending that says no one is coming to save you and a miracle is unlikely, so get on with it because self pity is only funny for so long.
Reading Chelsea Martin’s book is like having a close friend experience a breakup. The narrator goes through months of false regret born from guilt and lack of security; she meanders around falling into rebound escapades that add to her unwarranted regret; and her confusion over how the relationship ended even begins to confuse the reader as well. Reading the book is also unlike a friend’s breakup because it’s not such a pain in the ass. It doesn’t take very long to read and your friend’s relationship fallout probably lasts several months. Being removed from the heartbreak let’s you see the situations and the pitiful self realizations for how funny and sad they really are.
Lena Dunham describes Chelsea Martin as a writer of the internet age chronicling the Facebook generation. This book in particular reads like a compilation of clever Facebook statuses. We’ve been waiting and watching to see how social media will continue to impact fiction. Mickey is definitely a product of the age of status writing. What are tweets but diary entries in a vacuum that insists on brevity? Years ago a book like this wouldn’t have made any sense, but art reflects life and the I of autobiography, the selfie, and the Facebook status reigns supreme, rules our lives and our perception of self and others, and dictates our thinking. Mickey has minimal plot and few characters. All the action happens in the past and there’s only one speaker and one voice throughout. Each anecdote and passage is just a few sentences long. The story seems to be only in feeling, emotional experience, and bittersweet moments of interiority. Really, who has time for anything else?
I highly recommend this art-piece on autobiography. It’s only $8, can be purchased online or at any local bookstore, and it comes from a press here in Chicago. Pick it for your book club, bring it to the airport, or keep it in your bathroom for light reading.