After the Netflix series BoJack Horseman ended in 2020, many fans were left wondering what to read or watch next to fill the void. While a new series – Tuca and Bertie, also on Netflix – came out in 2019, it was not the only thing that American Raphael Bob-Waksberg left to his fans that year. He also published Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory, his first collection of short stories.
The book has nothing to do with the beloved, damaged man-horse. These short stories are an entirely different project: they focus on love in all its forms and on what it means to the author specifically. Thus, anyone can read Bob-Waksberg’s debut book, even people who disliked or didn’t watch BoJack Horseman.
Bob-Waksberg’s love through surrealism
For those who are already familiar with Bob-Waksberg’s voice, it will be easy to recognize his characteristic humor made of quick jokes and surreal situations. Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory is not, per se, a realistic or fantasy book. The love stories it collects are all realistic, but the situations in which the reader discovers them are often not.
In A Most Blessed and Auspicious Occasion, for example, a couple has to go through a series of weird and uncomfortable traditions such as the sacrifice of goats before their wedding. In We Men of Science, the protagonist finds a portal to a dimension in which everything is exactly contrary to what it was before. Or in Missed Connection, a man and a woman spend their lives on the same bus – in the most literal way.
In other stories, the context is more typical. But the question that lies underneath each tale never changes. The author keeps asking: is love worth it? The answer is never the same. A theme that could remind the reader of Raymond Carver‘s short stories, or Guido Catalano‘s ironic approach to romantic poetry. Whether it ends badly or on happy notes, Bob-Waksberg’s humor is guaranteed to make the reader laugh.
Experimenting with the medium
Many short stories in Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory have experimental elements. Bob-Waksberg plays with lists, poetry, font dimension, and more. Rules for Taboo starts as a simple list of rules and builds the story of a relationship on it. This playful approach to narrative is similar to David Foster Wallace‘s metafictional short stories: in his collection Girl With Curious Hair, he experiments with graphs, lists, and titles.
There are more similarities between the two, such as the dry humor and the clever use of long, elaborate sentences. Above all, the title is a noticeably long one, but with a meaning. As Bob-Waksberg said in an interview with the All Things Considered podcast:
… What I think the phrase means is this feeling of glory that, as humans who exist, there is something marvelous about us, something magical, something stupendous, something exemplary. […] And I do believe that we are all worthy of somebody who will love us, in all our damaged glory.Bob-Waksberg, 2019