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Book Review: I Hate You, Kelly Donahue

I Hate You, Kelly Donahue is a very strong title for a book. Surely such strong sentiments in the title have the power to evoke strong emotions in the reader. I must admit that initially I had some concerns about the premise of this book. Kelly Donahue is the object of ire of the protagonist/author. The motives for this disdain are never really laid forth in any detail. Initially that left me a bit uncomfortable, but eventually I realized that was probably for the best. Another thing that left me ill at ease was the general idea of violent acts directed toward Kelly Donahue. Maybe I am old school, but the thought of a man inflicting physical harm upon a woman just does not sit well.

After reading the "Acknowledgements" section I felt somewhat comforted by the expression of gratitude and friendship from the author to Kelly Donahue. However, this small degree of comfort was soon accompanied by a lot of new questions. Why would Kelly Donahue go along with this? What kind of friendship exists between Ms. Donaue and Mr. Svartz? To what degree does the character in the book overlap with the author? What do Mr. Svartz's mother and father (to whom this book is dedicated) think about this tome?

After setting these distractions aside and settling in to the content of the book, I was able to find some very enjoyable aspects. The dressing and packaging of this book are very unique. It is a pretty faithful imitation of a wire bound notebook. There is even a post-it note attached to the cover. The writing is almost entirely done in a scrawling hand-writing, with exception of the clippings and other scraps of paper pasted into the pages. The style is engaging and exciting. Flipping through pages is almost a voyeuristic experience in some ways.

The humor in the book is dark and biting. For those who enjoy this type of humor, you will find a lot to like. One of my favorite parts of the book is a Craigslist posting for a gig as a housekeeper cleaning after a party. The variety of documents "pasted into" the book are impressively disparate, unexpected, entertaining, and well integrated.

For those who are jaded about friendship or love, this book is sure to bring a level of satisfaction around Valentine's Day. The stylized presentation will appeal to the individuals who fancy themselves possessed a free-spirited design sensibility. This is one book that fits well with the experience of actually going to a brick and mortar bookstore and leafing through the pages. Though, as one who received the book through the mail, I can say that unwrapping the book was also an enjoyable experience.

by Cameron Hatch
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