A Short Book Review of a Short Book: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Saying Goodbye

Review by Zakary McGaha

3.5/5 stars.

This is a stellar collection of short stories and flash from one of indie lit’s most enthusiastic readers/reviewers. Every story has something to like about it, but some definitely stick out more than others.

The style of prose is on the minimalistic side of things, which I uniformly loathe, but this was one of the rare examples where it worked for me. The compactness made each story have a constant jabbing effect.

“The Country Musician” stood out as one that led to multiple things you could read into it. It’s also probably my favorite. It captured perfectly that feeling you get as an artist when you realize there’s an art industry out there, but to get into it, and get that sweet dough, you’ve got to give up a lot of dignity.

“The Soda” stood out as my favorite among the short, jokey stories. Something about this one was wildly entertaining and had me laughing. It also taught me a great lesson: never underestimate the multitude of ways soda-pop can fuck you up.

“Violent Bitch Hitomi” also stood out, as it could have been an awesome novella. It was very action-driven, so I couldn’t help imagine it as a bloody comic-book.

Some of the stories didn’t stick out as well, though, but that’s common with every collection. When  picking up this collection, readers should expect to get some jabs of strangeness and humor, added in with some insight and meaning here and there. Refreshingly, none of the stories are shoving themes down your throat, and the ones that do have some things to say do so in a way that’s organic and fitting with the story, showing skill on Arzate’s part.

Even the stories that didn’t leave any impression on me had good things about them: they’re all delightfully weird and idiosyncratic in their own way. I would say that the best way to read this collection is one story at a time: perhaps one a day. It’s meant to inject weirdness into your day, but in short doses.

In other words, don’t overdose: come to this book a little at a time, and sometimes you’ll find yourself amused, other times you’ll find yourself more engrossed (such as with stories like “The Country Musician”).

On a side note, the cover is badass, so buy this as a paperback.