Review: Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg [+ Random Reflections]

I was lazily scrolling through my instagram feed and came across this curious, at the time, new release with an interesting pink cover at Fullybooked‘s account. “Someone who will love you in all your damaged glory…“, it said – and when I read the caption and found out it was by Bojack Horseman‘s creator, Raphael Bob-Waksberg (because my God, I am obsessed with that show!) I knew I had to get it and read it. I immediately bought it for my Kindle, started reading it, and right after I finished the first story, “Salted Circus Cashews, Swear to God”, I knew I was a goner and that I would absolutely love it – and I DID!

I feel like this post is more of me screaming about all the little quotes that hit me so hard it’s not funny more than a decent review – so yeah, here goes:

Title: Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory: Stories
Author: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Genre: Short Stories, Humor

BLURB

From the creator and executive producer of the beloved and universally acclaimed television series BoJack Horseman, a fabulously off-beat collection of short stories about love–the best and worst thing in the universe
Written with all the scathing dark humor that is a hallmark of BoJack Horseman, Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s stories will make readers laugh, weep, and shiver in uncomfortably delicious recognition. In “A Most Blessed and Auspicious Occasion,” a young couple planning a wedding is forced to deal with interfering relatives dictating the appropriate number of ritual goat sacrifices. “Missed Connection–m4w” is the tragicomic tale of a pair of lonely commuters eternally failing to make that longed-for contact. The members of a rock band in “Up-and-Comers” discover they suddenly have superpowers–but only when they’re drunk. And in “The Serial Monogamist’s Guide to Important New York City Landmarks,” a woman maps her history of romantic failures based on the places she and her significant others visited together.
Equally at home with the surreal and the painfully relatable (or both at once), Bob-Waksberg delivers a killer combination of humor, romance, whimsy, cultural commentary, and crushing emotional vulnerability. The resulting collection is a punchy, perfect bloody valentine. (via Goodreads)

THOUGHTS

Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory is a collection of 18 short stories – often times off-beat and painful – which explores existential questions and random ideas about relationships, life and love. Raphael Bob-Waksberg delivers the same hard-hitting casual dialogues that Bojack Horseman is known for, while experimenting with different ways of presenting and telling a story.

I am an absolute fan of beautiful one-liners – those quotes that deliver a punch and just make my chest throb because of some weird, unexpected pain – (in fact I even have an ongoing meme about it) – and this book is in no way having a shortage of it. Going through this feels like being personally attacked sometimes even if I don’t have any substantial romantic experience I can pull from. You can remove the context and go by it line by line and it can still be affecting. Throughout this collection, I am amazed at his command of dark humor and concealed metaphors and how he makes even the most casual encounters and conversations feel poignant and profound. There’s a sense of empty restlessness and melancholy that hangs heavy in this collection. And I am so in awe because, most times, it’s really hard to encapsulate and describe it – hard to capture it through moments. But weirdly enough, this book got it.

The following are my absolute favorites (in order) and I have so many feelings about these so excuse my ramblings:

1. missed connection – m4w

You hesitated briefly there, perhaps waiting for me to say something, giving me one last chance to stop you, but rather than spit out a lifetime of suppressed almost-conversations, I said nothing, and I watched you slip out between the closing sliding doors.

This is a somewhat exaggerated narrative about missed connections where a man encountered a girl in the New York subway and fell for her. It goes on for a long time – and when I say long time, like decades (“For months we sat on the train saying nothing.“) – waiting for each other to make the first move, pretending not to notice when they observe each other closely all those times, giving each other the chance over and over until life forces them to move out and move on. Some say it’s a metaphor for failing marriage or some sort (“…And I thought about how amazing it is that you can know somebody for sixty years and yet still not really know that person at all.“, can’t remember where I read it), I don’t know. But it was so simple yet so *ugh* sad when that last scene came. ‘Missed connection’ is one of my favorite tropes just because I really like to hurt myself but this story really drove the knife home as an exaggerated cautionary tale of how you miss your chances when you don’t act on what you feel. I still think about this story, to be honest. It’s funny and tragic – all wrapped into one.

2. up-and-comers

And I thought about how, actually, if you wanted to, you could say the same thing about life. That life is terrifying and overwhelming and it can happen at any moment. And when you’re confronted with life you can either be cowardly or you can be brave, but either way you’re going to live. So you might as well be brave.

This is about a group of superheroes whose powers only manifest if they are drunk (“And the drunker we got, the more powerful we became.“) – and as most stories involving alcohol, it got a little messy. It follows a group of superheros as they navigated their lives in the peak of their “career” and then a while after that. It was unexpected, the way my love for this bit grew. This is such a beautiful story (personally) and I honestly wished there was more. For me, this is a casual study of purpose, loneliness and letting moments pass by. I hope Netflix picks this up to be developed into a mini-animated series because it really has the potential to go all they way, especially now that Bojack is ending for good.

3. The Serial Monogamist’s Guide to Important New York Landmarks

The town is full of these triggers, and the longer you live here, the more land mines you set.

The line above alone says a lot of things about this one. This is like a guided tour of all the places in New York that are haunted by a past romances (“Was ever a city so ruined by history, so smothered in the blood of past conflagration?“). It says a lot about how we associate so many things in so different places and that sometimes going back to these places means reliving and remembering moments – often times painful, other times warm (and sometimes, the warm memories are the ones that hurt more). (““What do you say? You want to go back to New York, see the sights?” “No,” you’ll say. “There are too many ghosts there.”“)

4. A Most Blessed and Auspicious Occasion

“Yeah,” I say. “The normal reasons. Like, I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. It’s all the dumb clichés about how even when I’m mad at you I love you and how every day the best part of it is waking up next to you. And it kills me that this is all the normal, typical people-in-love stuff, because I want to believe our love is special—that it’s bigger and more interesting than any love that anyone else has had before—but the heartbreaking truth is my love for you is so consistent and predictable and boring.”

This is one of those tales where it can get a bit trippy most times. It follows a couple planning for their upcoming wedding and somehow being forced to undergo and participate in all these weird rituals (expensive Promise Egg, shrieking choruses, goat sacrifices and more!). The quote above briefly touches on how relationships and love languages are viewed today. People often times reduce things to a “cliche” when in reality, for the people in it and experiencing it, their love is special even in the littlest of ways. Maybe it’s partly because of the media we consume, but we are so obsessed with grand gestures, life-changing encounters, and profound revelations (and sure I am quite guilty of this) that we lose sight of the fact that it is not those things that sustain a relationship. That there’s nothing wrong about quiet and predictable – as long as you are sure (which kind of reminds me so much of a line in this scene).

5. Salted Circus Cashews, Swear to God

but why would you want to miss out on the opportunity to eat delicious salted cashews just because of the slight off-chance that this is all an elaborate ruse to make you appear foolish?

This is the first story in this book and this piece definitely set the tone for the whole collection. There’s internal rumination about trust and how a choice can feel magnitude most times. Things are tempting, she almost gave in, but, by the end, she was still plagued by the existential question of whether this is good for her or not.


The thing about short story collections is that sometimes, because of its format, it’s hard to get into them and by the time you get attached, it’s done. On the other hand, the beauty of this is you get to start all over again multiple times and it takes lesser commitment because you can finish one story and then take a breather and come back to it again whenever you feel like it. I feel like I’ve read three to four thick books from the moment I started this book up until I flipped the last page. Seldom do short story collections sustain my interest, honestly – but for Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory (which btw has a mouthful but gorgeous title), I was surprised how it kept me invested till the end.

And I thought about how, actually, if you wanted to, you could say the same thing about life. That life is terrifying and overwhelming and it can happen at any moment. And when you’re confronted with life you can either be cowardly or you can be brave, but either way you’re going to live. So you might as well be brave. ” – An up-and-comers excerpt.

So might as well be brave.” This book warmed my heart and crushed it, story by story, in all these unexpected places – and I lived for it. One of my most favorite quotes in this book happen to be placed in the Acknowledgement (of all places!), that reads:

Finally, I would like to thank my wife. About half of these stories are from before I met her and half since, and I’m convinced if you lined them all up in the order they were written, you could pinpoint the moment where my heart became whole.

… and I melted again. Seriously, read this book. And if you would, I hope you would like it as much as I do. ♡

RATING

If you follow me on Twitter, here’s my Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory Reaction/Quotes ThreadCLICK HERE.


QUOTABLE QUOTES + Random Reflections

I usually put random, select quotable quotes here but for this book only, let me put it in another way: I’m listing quotes from each story (but not all) that really made an impact on me – most of them are taken out of context, as I usually does. It can get a bit long but go on and read on:

short stories

1. There are two kinds of people, he thought: the people you don’t want to touch because you’re afraid you’re going to break them, and the people you don’t want to touch because you’re afraid they’ll break you.
[…]

10. There are two kinds of people, he thought: the people you don’t want to touch because you’re afraid you’re going to break them, and the people you want to break.

These are not consecutive lines but when taken together creates that weird side-by-side comparison of how a person’s perception can change because of the things that happen to them.

“I never thought I could be this happy,” she imagined one day saying to someone.

This is so, so had. The wistfulness, and the reality that it hasn’t happened yet. *ugh*

A Most Blessed and Auspicious Occasion

She’s laughing, and I’m laughing, and I swear to Gods I’m the luckiest man in the world. I look at her, lit by fire, caked in blood, scored by the Shrieking of the Chorus and the wailing of a dying goat, and I wish I could marry her again. I wish I could marry her a hundred thousand times.

THIS MOMENT. ♡

Missed Connection – m4w

I fell in love with you a little bit, in that stupid way where you completely make up a fictional version of the person you’re looking at and fall in love with that person. But still, I think there was something there.

I can’t say it enough but missed connections – m4w is really *something* (see above ramblings).

The Serial Monogamist’s Guide to Important New York Landmarks

“What are we doing?” Eric asked, and you shook your head and said, “I don’t know.”

“… I don’t think you really love me; I think you’re just terrified of being alone,”
“I am alone; you have no idea how alone I am,” as if that were some kind of comeback.

You know where it is and you go out of your way to not see it, to not be reminded of the thing that happened there. It’s too much, this place. It would swallow you whole, this void, this pit, this unassuming two-story brownstone in Carroll Gardens that houses the one-bedroom apartment a much younger you and the man now listed in your phone as “DO NOT CALL HIM” were ever so foolish as to refer to as “home.”

We Men of Science

What if I was zero percent happy, and I walked through the door to find that a hundred percent happy still isn’t all that happy?

THIS existential question that really reminded me of the short story of the astronaut in Murakami’s Wind/Pinaball collection.

A statue isn’t built from the ground up—it’s chiseled out of a block of marble—and I often wonder if we aren’t likewise shaped by the qualities we lack, outlined by the empty space where the marble used to be. I’ll be sitting on a train. I’ll be lying awake in bed. I’ll be watching a movie; I’ll be laughing. And then, all of a sudden, I’ll be struck by the paralyzing truth: It’s not what we do that makes us who we are. It’s what we don’t do that defines us.

Lies We Told Each Other (a partial list)

 This moment, right here, is the happiest moment of my life.

 I love you. •  I love you too.

These Are Facts

You can write it all down, you can put it in your book of facts, but the truth is no one can ever really understand the tangle of experiences and passions that makes you who you are. It’s a secret collection, a private language, a pebble in your pocket that you play with when you’re anxious, hard as geometry, smooth as soap.

And he said, “Sometimes I feel like I don’t have to tell you things, because I feel like when you look at me, you can see everything.”

Lunch with the Person Who Dumped You

but if there’s a silver lining here (and you’re not sure there is one), it’s the assurance that what you had, whatever it was, had weight. It made an impact. You can put to rest the fear that you were a blip in this other person’s life, a footnote. What you did was important. You hurt somebody, and somebody hurt you.

That obsession in proving that you’re not just a blip in someone else’s life. I relate.

You had every intention of being depressed forever, but as it turns out, there’s work to be done, meals to eat, movies to see, errands to run. You meant to be in ruins permanently, your misery a monument, a gash across the cold hard earth, but honestly, who has the time for that?

REALITY.

Rules for Taboo

‘You deserve someone who will love you in all your damaged glory.’

MANTRA.

and when the shadow moved and the sun hit your face, you flinched and then smiled. And I realized: That’s what I wanted. Just like that. Forever.

THIS MOMENT, dude.

up-and-comers

“Wait,” said Mutt. “You can’t just walk away.” But as it turned out, I could do all sorts of incredible things.

Move across the country.

but when you get to the door there will be a sticky note over the knob that says, “but what if this time you stayed?”

You Want to Know What Plays Are Like?

And as you watch this weird mirror version of your family trip to Niagara and you hear people around you laughing at the “jokes” and disparagingly murmuring their judgy little murmurs, you begin to feel very, very naked and exposed. You feel like you’re a record store full of strangers; here they go, ambling up your aisles, riffling through your stacks. The Museum of You is now open for business, every piece of you hung up on a wall, laid bare on a table, harshly lit and awkwardly described. It’s like one of those dreams, is what it’s like. You know the kind of dreams I’m talking about? It’s like one of those.

the poem

If ends are encoded in every beginning, we wonder, then what is the point?

The idea that everything is pre-determined, destined, written somewhere and we just need to follow it bums me out so much. I am uncomfortable with the idea and maybe this is why.

The Average of All Possible Things

It was normal and boring and fine, and it sucked, but it was fine.

And when he spoke to her, he called her “Lucinda,” which sliced and gutted her every time, even though she knew that was stupid, because what else would he call her? “Luce”? No way. “Koala”? No. He used to call her a koala because of the way she wrapped herself around him in bed, like a koala on a branch. She had wrapped her whole life around him, like a koala on a branch. And now the branch was gone and Lucinda had to deal with the fact that her life was now wrapped around nothing—which of course was all perfectly normal. All the pain Lucinda now felt was normal. The emptiness was normal. The harsh incinerating boring awful raw barren obsessive numb five-hundred-volt nothingness now completely consuming her was so totally average.

“You know, I used to be super-bummed, but the truth is you can get over anything with enough time.

GET THE BOOK! >> Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Fullybooked (by special request)

Here’s Raphael Bob-Waksberg discussing his book + some readings:

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Auditor by profession and a 'round-the-clock geek 🤓from the 🇵🇭. I'm a coffee-holic INTJ with an unhealthy obsession with books and stationery. I'm also a Sssslytherin 🐍. I word-vomit over at @pagesandcc (twitter) and posts book pics at @pagesandcoffeecups (intstagram). I also blog at https://pagesandcoffeecups.com/ .

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