Joseph Edwin Haeger reviews Please Buy This Book So I Can Feel Validated & (Finally) Love Myself by Homeless. (House of Vlad)
Homeless’s first book, This Hasn’t Been a Very Magical Journey So Far is about a road trip where a man takes a somewhat magical journey with a talking cat. It doesn’t have an end destination because his journey starts from a state of grief and the whole thing is symbolic. The first story in Please Buy This Book So I Can Feel Validated & (Finally) Love Myself: A Novella + Poems & Stories follows along these same lines of a mundane journey, but with an ultimate goal—even if it’s only to go to Olive Garden.
Two characters, referred to as ex-boy and ex-girl, deliver pizzas to hopefully earn enough money to go to Olive Garden. They both have dark rain clouds following them around and it’s during moments when the clouds interact that we see that all these two needed to survive was each other. In this novella-length story, we see how the world’s indifference can wear on someone and it helps to have a friend by our side. To have someone who understands our pain and, in the end, even if we still feel shitty, let us know we’re not alone.
After the novella is the poetry section. These poems, like many House of Vlad books, are seemingly skimming the surface and meant to be absurd for absurdity’s sake. But the moment you start scratching at them, a whole wealth of meaning comes spilling out. Homeless’s poems show us what it means to be living in our world on a day-to-day basis.
When I was in 1st grade,
I got yelled at by my teacher
for melting crayons in the radiator
during indoor recess.
When she asked why I did it
I didn’t give her an answer
even though I had one—
I just thought the crayons looked
prettier melted & deformed
Then I grew up, got old & never did
anything truly original
Hope, loss of innocence, self-doubt, the corrosion of creativity. All in a poem about melting some crayons on a rainy day.
HOW LOVE SHOULD FEEL
The way a spider web
modestly catches moonlight
as it’s strung up between
two garbage cans
is how love should feel
(but seldom does).
I admire “How Love Should Feel” because it says something so raw and true about his perspective on love and paints a vivid picture and emotion. He has a knack for being able to do that and it’s proven in this collection.
Please Buy This Book So I Can Feel Validated & (Finally) Love Myself is wide-spanning and shows a massive amount of maturity. The story that burrowed its way under my skin was “We Ain’t Jitterbugs No More.” It takes Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and places two old men on the periphery. These men discuss their lives past and watch young people so immersed in their phones that they tumble over the ending sidewalk, presumably falling to their deaths. After some time observing the falls, one of the men says:
“I just tried to keep my head down and work hard and go through life as honestly as possible, hoping that whatever does come next, if anything at all, well… I just hope it’s a little bit kinder, ya know? That it hurts a little bit less than this all has.”
These are the moments of clarity that fuel Homeless’s writing. He’s making worthwhile connections while journeying through a mundane world, and even if in the end we don’t have anything to show for it, we still did it and that certainly says something. Homeless is proving that it’s okay to just show up because that’s a whole hell of a lot more than what we should expect from anyone.