All My Friends Are Superheroes

I've not been reading for a while now. Working on various projects yes, but never really setting aside the time to read, leaving a few books half-read.I spotted this short and fun-looking book on the shelves and thought it might be a good way back into a bit of regular reading.

It's a simple little story about love - the protagonist, Tom, is married to a superhero who can no longer see him, having been hypnotised, and he must try to convince her he's still around.

Despite being written in 2003, it's pretty hipsterish, and feels quite smug about the world it creates. Superheroes inhabiting a mundane world, I guess that's magical realism? All the more so for the fact the super-powers are mostly metaphors. Lacking wide reading, the best I can articulate it as is Coupland written by Vonnegut. Given the super-powers aren't useful, certainly for fighting crime, but are instead mostly emphasised personality traits or character quirks, they're more Mister Men and Little Misses than real super-heroes. If Hargreaves's creations were in their twenties and stuck in dead-end jobs, that is.

I do like the idea that, moving to a new town, the narrator by fluke initially meets and befriends a superhero, and then by mutual acquaintance becomes the only "regular" person in a clique of superheroes. The central love story is rather sweet. It's very clever (and it knows it). Why does it irk me so much?

For whatever reason, it feels desolate and soulless. Like a US city designed for cars and not a person to be seen. Outside of the main romance we are told of a lot of heartbreaks, but they're all empty, usually some dry superhero metaphor joke. Tom and his wife are the only real people in a papier mache world.

Maybe that's a deliberate stylistic choice, but it leaves me cold.

Oh, and a decent number of characters act like dicks. That never works for me.

Posted 2022-07-28.