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Ruining It for Everybodyby Jim Knipfel
Synopses & Reviews
"Whenever I hear the word 'spiritual,' I reach for my pistol."
So begins Ruining It for Everybody, the final volume of Jim Knipfel's trauma trilogy. Knipfel is mostly blind and has been diagnosed with mixed personality disorder and mild brain damage. He is also prone to recurring cysts that can be as big as eyeballs — but that, fortunately, never land on his face and can be "removed quite nicely with a shoe knife and a handy bottle of Wild Turkey." These failures of his body and mind led him to contemplate what it means to be — well, spiritual. "It doesn't matter if you're a Muslim extremist, a Buddhist, an Episcopalian, a Moonie, a Satanist, an Amway salesman, whatever your faith — if you have a bad cold, it's going to change the way you look at the world. If you have cancer, or a broken arm, or AIDS, it will color your perspective even further. True 'spirituality' is reflected in how you deal with things in the face of unexpected and uncomfortable circumstances, regardless of whatever rule system you might swing about."
With brutal honesty and humor, Knipfel describes his transformation from being "a monster, a creep; wanting to do whatever I could to make the world a worse place" to experiencing regret, redemption, and hope — although he would be the last person to admit it. Part Henry Miller, part Sid Vicious, part Jon Kabat-Zinn gone to the dark side, Knipfel has produced a scary and hilarious anti-spirituality spiritual manifesto.
"Knipfel, a columnist for New York Press, opens this memoir with, 'Whenever I hear the word "spiritual," I reach for my revolver.' Dogged by 'bad spirits,' he cites a wicked laundry list of his physical and psychological ailments, beginning with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease; epilepsy; and paranoia and depression. The author catalogued much of this torment, both of the body and mind, in his previous books, Slackjaw and Quitting the Nairobi Trio. Here, he uses his dark, sardonic humor to examine his inner self, finding 'failure of the spirit is the most dangerous kind of failure there is.' Childhood obsessions of a 'blinding white light' and the crucifixion evolve, as demons continue to plague the adult Knipfel with seizures, blackouts, suicide attempts and the evil influences of his friend Grinch, a sociopath who tries to get Knipfel to burn down a building with him. Fortunately, two other (more sane) friends, Laura and Morgan, humanize his rage and paranoia so he can get on with the 'patterns' of daily existence. What makes this book enjoyable is not Knipfel's false opinion of just being 'a simple...man with psychological and neurological problems,' but rather the author's triumph in the face of often overwhelming health challenges. Witty, irreverent and full of black humor, this is a memoir of a troubled, talented soul who can laugh at himself while refusing to throw in the towel on life. Agent, Ken Swezey. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In the final volume of the trauma trilogy, Knipfel — part Henry Miller, part Sid Vicious, part Jon Kabat-Zinn gone to the dark side — has produced a scary and hilarious anti-spirituality spiritual manifesto.
Praised by the New York Times for his "wicked black humor" and by Thomas Pynchon for putting readers on "an extraordinary emotional ride," Jim Knipfel has written about the failings of his body (Slackjaw) and the failings of his mind (Quitting the Nairobi Trio).
Now, in his third — and finest — memoir, Knipfel looks unflinchingly at his soul, and comes to some surprising conclusions in this anti-spirituality spiritual manifesto.
About the Author
Jim Knipfel is the author of Slackjaw, as well as a columnist and staff writer for New York Press. He lives in Brooklyn.
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