Cigarette Philosophy & Perfect Monotony: A Novel – Matt Overland

Hi book friends!

It’s strange how knowing the author of the book you’re reading changes your perspective while reading it. Matt and I met several years ago while in the military. He stayed and finished basic training and his year of service, while I left after 9 days with a bad shoulder, haha. Now, we’re attending the same university home in Norway and he has started writing! This is his debut novel. I’ve borrowed the blurb from Goodreads;

Cigarette philosophy is simply the words exchanged while having a smoking break. They can be as simple as the weather or as complex as life and its meaning. Nevertheless they are the musings of a smoker while isolated from the rest of the general population by the deadly cloud of tobacco – or similar smoke. 

Perfect monotony is the state in which every day seems to be a continuation, or copy of the last, either as horrifying mania or beautiful depression, it’s perfectly monotonous nonetheless. 

The title of the book doesn’t indicate extreme action, does it? You’re right. There isn’t much action in this book. What there is a lot of in this book is smoking, drunkness, whiskey, randomness, bullshit talk, and people. Ordinary people, like you and I. Ordinary people with ordinary problems whom you may not notice in your daily life. John, the main character, is a lowlife writer who after quitting his job starts writing full time. He has his ups and downs, he has his friends and his life is monotone in a strange way. It is not monotone in the way that he does the same in the same order every day. It used to be like that before he quit his job. His life is monotone in the way that the actions seem to be on repeat in randome order. It is strange because normally I get bored with this kind of writing, but Overland has managed to write this book so that when you put it down you wonder how John is doing? What is going to happen to John next? This is strange when there’s not much going on in the book after all. In my opinion this is the genius part of Overland’s writing, and it is part of why I’m giving this book a 4 star rating. Overland is good at describing the horrifying mania and beautiful depression that is mentioned within the blurb and it is this ability Overland have to describe things that really makes this book worth a 4 star rating.

The writing in this book is full of personality hidden between the lines. Sometimes I struggled catching what was happening in the story, but I suppose that’s because John’s mind is rather jumpy. Apparently a lot of artists and writers has that kind of mind (I believe that I read somewhere that this indicates creativity), and rumor has it that whiskey/beer, smoking and drugs doesn’t help this, haha. Since we witness the story from John’s persepctive we also follow John’s mind. It is an interesting mind which struggles to find its place in this world. John struggles with boredom and I think this is something that a lot of people, myself included, can relate to. We’re so used to everything happening so quickly these days that when we have time to sit down and do regular things we get bored. This seems to be John’s problem to me, and he takes steps to do something with his boredom, but I won’t talk too much about that because then I’ll spoil a lot of the monotonus fun you have in store. Although as a result of this boredom a lot of clever philosophy is exchanged between John and his friends. Some of it sounds rather useful and clever, while other parts of it is complete and utter bullshit. After all, one can not be clever all the time.

I would say that this isn’t a book for everyone to read. If you like life-pondering, smoking/whiskey/beer/music related books and find interest in reading books that doesn’t have a lot of action then this is indeed the book for you. The writing is good, and I think this is what really made me finish the book, because I enjoyed the few plot twists that show up and the way Overland describes things, as I have mentioned earlier. I can really see Overland in his own main character and I find that funny, but like I said I suspect that I was more aware of this because I know Overland. If this book sounds appealing to you then you should indeed give it a go! Rumor has it that Overland has more books planned, so if you like this book, then you will have more to look forward to in the future!

Published: 2017

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Smoking, philosophy, whiskey, friends

– The Book Reader

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