Review: The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself by Nicholas Tanek

The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself Cover

4 gutted and grateful Stars

Nostalgia is a tricky thing. You can hear a song, catch a whiff of specific scent on the breeze, see a picture of some long forgotten place and suddenly, you’re there. Right back there. Re-living memories that may or may not be welcome. You can just as easily be sucked into a vortex of pain and regret as you can find yourself re-living a fantastically lovely moment. Indulging in nostalgia is a bit like opening Pandora’s Box – you know whatever is going to come out is powerful, but whether it’s good or not is to be decided.

I found myself firmly encased in nostalgia reading the first half of this book. Although the geography was different, the music, the drugs, the situations, the people, the conversations were so thoroughly reminiscent of my adolescence and college years that I had to stop reading several times to let the memories wash over me. I had to go back and pull up songs that I haven’t heard in 20 some odd years, just because I had to hear them again. I found myself staring off into space immersed in memories that haven’t surfaced in decades. It was fun and interesting and concrete proof that hindsight is 20/20.

This book is a story of relationships. It’s a story of one man’s journey through the first half of his life told through his relationships. At the end of the day, that’s all any of our lives are – a string of relationships to people, places and things. The ripple effects of which we allow to define us now and then, past, present and future.

Nicholas Tanek has written a somewhat clumsily crafted story about the relationships that formed him into the man he is today. I don’t know how much of this story is true and how much of it is fiction and I don’t care. What I do care about is that even though I could spend an entire review picking apart his writing on technical issues, I have no desire to. Because this book, regardless of its interpretation, is honest. This book is so utterly authentic that it is heartbreaking. You cannot look at a story told with such sincerity and not have it affect you deeply.

I had no idea what to expect from this book when I picked it up. I did not expect for it to sneak up and leave me so thoroughly gutted. I did not expect that initial nostalgia to turn into such a deep connection with the storyteller. I did not expect to be writing this review. But I’m so grateful for all of those. Like blocks clicking into place, I reached the end of this book and realized that I was forever changed by it. Not only because it so easily could have been my own story, but because it so eloquently displayed the wounded, triumphant, joyful feeling that you get when you look back on your life and realized that through the mistakes and successes, you are better for it all.

I know that this review hasn’t actually told you much about this book. I’ve not even given you character names, really. But you can get all of that from the blurb. I had to write about what this book taught me, what it made me see. Because at the end of the day, that’s what matters. Life and the people we choose to share it with, is what matters. Laced through with love and honesty – that’s the total package.

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