The whole time that I was reading this book, it seemed to me that Jimmy Reject is a really insecure person. It’s almost like he’s trying to make up for his shortcomings in real life, like shyness or self-consciousness, by making himself the exact opposite in these stories. The most glaring example to me was the story “Loud and Obnoxious: The Ballad of Mel Licious.” It isn’t actually about Jimmy, but it is written in first person and I got the feeling that Jimmy kind of got himself off by writing lines like, “My wasted, obnoxious demeanor cast an even web of fear over the locals,” and “I immediately whipped out my dick and took a big piss all over the front row.” That just seems like stuff that a lonely twentynothing would write for a low-rent version of Hustler, trying to feel better about himself.
His writing is also marred by an excessive use of his thesaurus. Now, anyone who has ever written a research paper knows that a thesaurus is an invaluable tool to help you bullshit your way out phrases like “and then some stuff happened and it was fucked up and yeah.” The problem is, this isn’t a research paper. Having a way with words is one thing, but I just don’t think it’s necessary to wax poetic about peeing on a naked bisexual curled up in a shower.
Another aspect of that is that it doesn’t come across as realistic, like he hasn’t really experienced what he writes about. Take Charles Bukowski, for example. Bukowski wrote a lot about the fucked up, degenerate underbelly of society, which is what I think Jimmy Reject is trying to do here, but reading Bukowski and watching Barfly, you get the feeling that he knows exactly what he’s talking about, like he’s lived that life for so long that it’s second nature for him. Or when Nelson Algren wrote about gamblers and hustlers and prostitutes, it didn’t seem like an after-school special about “the wrong side of the tracks,” it was honest and vivid. That’s not to say that the stories that make up The Enemy’s Within seem straight out of the D.A.R.E. handbook, they just seem like average stories with a lot of pride-swelling embellishment.
After all this negative criticism, I’d like to say that I don’t think this book sucks. Jimmy Reject seems like the kind of guy who you could talk to at a party for a few minutes and then phase out when his stories start to get worse. That quality doesn’t translate into a book very well. –Not Josh (Blueboy Productions, 115 W. Squantum St #203, Quincy, MA02171)