Think of your friends, think of what makes them special, what makes them different to other people, what makes them super – a simple idea but a fantastic book. What if our personal traits and characteristics made us superheroes?
Meet Tom, he’s not a superhero but all his friends are including his new wife, who can’t see him. Tom has the duration of a flight to Vancouver to get through to his wife, to become visible again. During the flight Tom takes us back through his memories of how he met his wife and the weird and wonderful superheroes that make up their family and friends.
This book is quirky and fun to read. It’s not taxing or deeply philosophical but it might just change your outlook on life. The superheroes I speak of aren’t Lycra clad with pants on the outside; they haven’t come off the pages of a comic book. They are to all intents and purposes just like you and me, but with one characteristic heightened.
I first read Andrew Kaufman’s book about 5 years ago. I instantly fell in love with it. I saw myself and my friends in a new light after reading the book. For a short period it made me appreciate the annoying traits people have, because without them they wouldn’t be them. Cliché I know but actually so very true. I think I was going through a mid-twenties life crisis when I read it as I became all reflective thinking about each superhero’s power and questioning how I would live and cope if that was me.
I love how Kaufman creates the superheroes seeing aspects of people heightened and drawing out what could be good and what could be bad about them. The Sloth a guy who had a dead-end job and no plans to get a better one, but who has an amazing power to just say “Fuck it!” The Projectionist who can make you believe whatever she believes, great power till she fell in love with the Inverse. The Chip, born with a massive chip on her shoulder she develops superhuman strength to carry it around, but can’t use the super strength for anything else until she gets rid of the child and can’t get rid of the chip without using her strength. The Face, the most beautiful woman in the world, but no one can describe her features, her eye colour seeing only her “beauty”.
I’m an organiser, I write lists. I write lists of things to write lists about and in our household we have organised fun with lists of what we’re going to do. My other half loves me for it. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do that. I get excited about new notebooks; I jumped with joy at my new To Do pad with a magnet on the back that I can stick to the fridge. I am forever using online note apps, organising my life and other peoples. Organisation is without a doubt my superpower.
Part way through the book Kaufmann makes for me the point that the entire books hangs upon. “The final stage of finding you superhero name is accepting how little difference it really makes”. We all have things that make us difference, make us special, things we can do better than others, things we don’t do as well as others but when it comes down to it, we have far more similarities and we all “…have to get dressed in the morning” and “Your lover will still leave you if you don’t treat her right”.
I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy this book as much the second time round. Knowing how it ends definitely took a little of the magic away but the magic of the characters still managed to put a smile on my face and I walked away happy. Now I think that’s not a bad thing at all.