A Caricature is an image that exaggerates a particular feature in order to draw attention to it. I’ve been frustrated with Google because I am unable to find a similar word to use for this novel and it’s use of exaggeration of features into superpowers to serve the author’s needs. All my Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman, published in 2004 by Coach House Books at 104 pages, is a caricature in the literary style rather the visual one. It’s an attempt, a fairly enjoyable one, to tell a love story using superpowers to take the relationships and interactions to an absurd level. Most characters, other than the narrator, have superpowers and each superpower reflects some important facet of their own personality. At times it can be over the top, but, given how short the book is, on the whole it works and the author is able to clearly make his points about human relationships in an effective way.
This is the story of Tom and how he has one plane ride to convince his wife, the Superhero known as the Perfectionist, that he is real. The Perfectionist has been hypnotized by her ex, Hypno, to believe that Tom is invisible. It’s been six months since she was hypnotized on her wedding day and now she has decided to leave since she can’t find her husband. What follows is Tom reliving all of his past relationships on a plane ride to Vancouver while trying to figure out a way to convince the Perfectionist of his existence before the plane lands and he gives up for good.
Sprinkled throughout the book are brief appearances and explanations of other superheroes in this world. Many of them are funny, and all are meant to show some deeper idea about what a superpower really is and what it means to those around them. My favorite is Mistress Clean-As-You-Go. But there’s also the Couch Surfer:
“Empowered with the ability to sustain life and limb without a job, steady companion or permanent residence, the Couch surfer can be found roaming from couch to couch of friends’ apartments all across the city.”
This book is short (104) and very entertaining if you’re in the mood for something with a more romantic vibe. My only real annoyance with the book was the handling of the Amphibian. Blessed with the ability to breathe underwater, the author claims that this is pretty useless and thus the Amphibian is reduced to being a pool cleaner. Completely ridiculous. So many uses for that power: Underwater welder, underwater explorer. SeaWorld staff. Treasure hunter. Ugh. Anyway, it’s quick and well worth the read if you’re in the mood for something different. The explanations of the superheroes in the world are reason enough by themselves to take an hour and give it a read.
Rating – 3 Stars. Andrew liked it.
Any help with what this should be called instead of a literary caricature would be much appreciated in the comments below.
Andrew McBride is a THN love slave. He wishes there were more hours in the day.