I was going to introduce this post with a funny little story about me as a kid conflating words in songs and thinking they said something else . . . and then I realised that the post would end up being about me, instead of about the book my friend the Zimmerman recently had published. Which would be ironic, since the book is called Deliver Us from Me-ville.
Me-ville, where everything is all about me. That would be in my head. And, respectively, in most other people's heads, too.
This is a tricky topic to tackle. How do you write about self-absorption without being self-absorbed, and yet also without sounding as if you think you're preaching to a whole bunch of people who you think are self-absorbed, while you yourself are exempt?
I'm not sure how the Zimmerman did it, but he definitely did it. It doubtless helps that he has a knack for self-deprecation, although even that can become an outlet for selfishness if overdone. He did not overdo it. He's just self-aware enough to know that he can be as guilty of self-absorption as the rest of us. He admits it, but doesn't get mired in a self-gratifying public guilt-fest.
As a reader, reading it was a different but similar kind of challenge: if I happened upon a part to which my gut responded, "Hey--he's talking to me!" I then had to pull back with a, "Hey--wait a minute . . . " How can I not resonate with talk of self-centeredness? But . . . it did seem a little suspect.
I'm glad he wrote the book. I'm glad I read it. I don't want to tell you you're selfish or anything, but you might want to pick up a copy and read it, too.
While you're waiting for your order to come in, you could play along with this little game which the Zimmerman devised recently in a brief email exchange we had about the prophets of the Old Testament:
"Which prophet's trials and tribulations would you be least unwilling to endure?"
He says this would be a good icebreaker for Bible nerds. I agree. But even if you weren't the kids whose hands they tied down in youth group so that you wouldn't answer all the trivia questions, I think you can play along . . .