Dallas' Book Report: Confessions of A Failed Egoist by Trevor Blake

Portland is home to a lot of things: America's oldest rose test garden; Powell's City of Books: the largest independent book store in the country; a disproportionate population of liberal white people; and Trevor Blake—author of Confessions Of A Failed Egoist. Get ready for a wild ride, because this book ranges on topics from used bookstores to the sex lives of disabled people—all from the murky lens of an egoist viewpoint.

So how can I sum up this book? I don't think I entirely can. Even the author himself does not know at times what he is trying to say, but I will give it the old college try. Confessions Of A Failed Egoist is a discombobulated read that confounds as much as it captivates. Once started, it is near impossible to put down; to start is a fools' errand and the latter point of not being able to not put it down? This book is a frustratingly fun read. For the record, frustrating does not equate with being bad, on the contrary. This book is filled with fast and funny writing that slaughters just about every sacred cow of Western Civilization—and I hope you like burgers because Trevor Blake kills said cow with the kind of gusto and glee that only an egoist can provide. Confessions Of A Failed Egoist is like going into a candy store and seeing every pretty crimson-red candy apple and chocolate drop, only to be told by the candyman that “These sweet treats are MINE.”

The mother of the question is, what is an egoist? While reading this book, sometimes I believed that even the author did not know (hence the Failed Egoist part). And that is okay because Confessions Of A Failed Egoist never admits that it is building its foundation on the coherent philosophical ground. The author declares that the book is better to read out loud to get the gist of it all. Well, Trevor Blake, you got me—caught me red-handed! I barely read this book in an undertone, and yeah, your admonition was correct. Some essays were as confusing, and the mental befuddlement would have been abated if read out loud. But that would only help part of the way because this book also requires the reader to have a thesaurus-like knowledge of the English language as well.

I also made the mistake of reading it in sequential order. Confessions Of A Failed Egoist seems like its more at home as
a coffee table book. The kind of book one picks up to read its many disparate essays, peering into what the selfish mind of an egoist is like. Pick up like a literary Hors d'oeuvre, read, and learn a little something. Just make sure that the guest at the coffee table is not a liberal, conservative, anarchist, feminist, Muslim, Christian, objectivist, vegan, or socialist, etc.

Actually, to be on the safe side and avoiding the old torch-and-pitchfork routine, you probably should not have this book be the centerpiece of your coffee table. It is not often that I read a book where the author goes out of their way to piss off everyone and have no one in mind as an audience—even other egoists. But then again, isn't that the fun of the philosophy in the first place? At least that's what I got out of it.


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