Every time I walk into my local Waterstones I see one of Andrew Kaufman’s books. Usually ‘The Tiny Wife’, which I picked up recently for a pound on Kindle and the lovely Emma of Book Monkey recommended. However, a few weeks ago I saw Kaufman’s début novel ‘All My Friends Are Superheroes’ sitting in the recommending bay. Kaufman’s work intrigues me as it’s very fantastical and brief in its length. So, this evening I fancied a short piece of fiction and grabbed the début outing to dip my toe in his work.
It’s best to describe the novella as pleasant. It didn’t blow my mind but it didn’t bore me. At around 100 pages it was easy to read in one sitting and very swiftly at that. What I really enjoyed was the idea that the central character, Tom, was an outcast by the fact that he has no superpowers, whereas all of his friends do.
Superpowers is a loose term and is quite likely more of a metaphor. There are a few standouts such as Hypno whose name describes his ability and Amphibian is exactly that. However, there are some odd “superpowers” which are more of an allegory. It’s my feeling that the novella was created to depict society and how people are unique. I mean, falling off of things isn’t a superpower, and neither is couch surfing. They are very humorous, though and reflect the many ways that people live their lives.
A few “superpowers” I particularly loved were The Stressbunny who everyone invites to their parties as she soaks up everyone’s stress in a 50 foot radius and things run much smoother. Then there’s The Spooner who travels in the night looking for lonely people and climbs into their bed and hugs them while they sleep.
The central premise of the book involves Tom marrying his true love, The Perfectionist. At their wedding reception, The Perfectionist’s ex boyfriend Hypno hypnotises her so that Tom becomes invisible to her. She can no longer see, nor hear him. The book looks back at the six months that follow their wedding day and how Tom tries to get The Perfectionist to see him, again.
It’s a sweet story, but never sickeningly so and Kaufman touches on the general pitfalls of life and relationships. It’s utterly quirky, but maybe a little too quirky. Too often Kaufman veers off of a genuinely profound moment and enters into a more ludicrous or funny moment, which spoils the sentiments. It doesn’t spoil the novella, but you have to wonder how much impact is lost through this structure.
I’m very much looking forward to reading more of Kaufman’s work and enjoyed ‘All My Friends Are Superheroes’. It’s not a perfect slice of fiction, but it’s satisfying while it lasts.
Published by Telegram Books. This book was purchased and read on Kindle.