O U T S I D E L E F T   stay i n d e p e n d e n t

Gift Book of the Year: Design Flaws of the Human Condition by Paul Schmidtberger

J.Charreaux goes rummaging through the book racks in search of the perfect gift for a possibly imperfect friend

get the weekly Outsideleft newsletter
by J. Charreaux, for outsideleft.com
originally published: December, 2007
Design Flaws is the novel about heartbroken, revenge-seeking New Yorkers you've always wanted to read

Gift Book of the Year: ''Design Flaws of the Human Condition'' by Paul Schmidtberger

For the friend has everything. The one who's read everything by David Sedaris. ''Design Flaws''-- debut work of a fantastic American ex-patriot--is the novel about heartbroken, revenge-seeking New Yorkers you've always wanted to read. And what about the bidding war for the movie rights, the Hollywood writers' strike, the name-dropping speculation on who will play the starring roles--Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightley, Christian Bale--the kid from ''Superbad'' and ''Juno''? Don't put the cart before the horse. You need to read the book first.

Iris is arrested on an airplane after an annoying cell phone talker causes her to snap. Ken is caught defacing books in the college library where he teaches composition--writing true epithets about his cheat of a boyfriend. Both are forced to attend anger-management sessions and bond. Then there's the third musketeer in this mandated-therapy arrangement. Jeff, the ingenue, is a graduate student. He's there because he heroically broke the face of a law-professor-in-disguise with an artfully thrown laptop during a psychology experiment researching some Stockholm Syndrome hypothesis.

The first step toward recovery is admitting that you have a problem. Yet, despite decrying how they were railroaded into Anger Management and tuning out the lecturer, they learn about themselves. While devising convoluted schemes to surveil and punish those who got them into their predicament, Iris and Ken reassess what they lack and what they may or may not have lost. But do the bastards get it in the end?

It's hard to find people on your same wavelength in any city, be it New York or Des Moines. Ending up with a couple of new friends and your criminal records expunged may be what it takes to break out of a predictable social cocoon.

More about the author Paul Schmidtberger

see more stories from outsideleft's Product archive »»
Outsideleft Night In
OL's Daily Playlist to Stay In For
mon.29.june, OUTSIDELEFT 100


thumb through the ancient archives:

search for something you might like...

sign up for the outsideleft weekly. a selection of new and archived stories every week. Or less.

View previous campaigns.

I Am Superman and I Can Do Anything
The way acclaimed poet Casey Bailey tells it, is how it is
Outsider(s) of the Week: Ann and Jamie
Greta Alfaro: El cataclismo nos alcanzara impavidos
SCAN in London presents the video series The Looking Glass. The first episode features Greta Alfaro's El cataclismo nos alcanzará impávidos
Fan Fiction: Carol Dekker Celebrity Pointless
Carol Dekker's last little bit of remaining heart and soul gets her invited onto Celebrity Pointless
The Old New Jack Swing
Do you remember that blip on the music radar called New Jack Swing? Our Andy Allison does and he's here to refresh your memory on the music sensation that once swept the nation.