I’ve never wanted to both go to waffle house more often and never go to waffle house ever again.
Brian Alan Ellis asks us “…isn’t this a fucking hoot?” and it really is. Ellis’ compilation is
comprised of continual bangers that don’t quit. Teeming with self-loathing and a somewhat veiled self-appreciation, the text is reminiscent of scrolling through someone’s iPhone Notes, being both personally sacred and very oddly comforting.
The beginning narrative describes a surreal-like phone call between the author and his literary agent. “Brian laughs, hangs up the phone, and walks out into the house without his underwear on” and this is exactly how the beginning of Ellis’s Sad Laughter makes you feel. You are only three paragraphs in when you subconsciously walk into the beautiful mind fuck that is Brain Alan Ellis’ informal diary of self-loathing but don’t let the chaos fool you. Random and ranty as the book may seem, there is indeed a booming method to Ellis’ madness. Anything that makes you feel the way this book does is doing something right.
Through quirky instances of internal Q&A dialogue and endless counts of self-ridicule, Ellis opens a curtain and lets us into his world of personal memes and notes to no one in particular.
Every one-liner envelops the painful act of self-criticism with the ability to laugh about all the faults found and there are many. Ellis is both self-aware and hypocritical. His section titled AWP IS FUCKING DOG SHIT hints at the writer’s background within the academic literary community, while also mocking it to an extreme. Ellis is both a product and an outcast of his environment.
Ellis dreams of alternate realities that may have easily existed but don’t, evoking a je ne sais quoi that is both shared and somehow longed for, even in its unknown. There are fragments of everything that possibly could have been but wasn’t. Still, we can catch glimpses of his other bitter, yet different, futures. Some possibly better, but not the one Ellis still distressingly finds himself in.
Sad Laughter is available to buy on Amazon and Bookshop.org