[Review] The life of a self-help writer is not to be taken as an example.

Title: Confessions of a Self-Help Writer: The Journal of Michael Enzo
Author: Benjamin DeHaven
Source: Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review
Tl;dr: The diary of a ghost-writer makes for an interesting book, but failed at going multi-platform.

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I am really not sure what to think of this book. The cover grabbed my attention (distorted buildings and a falling man, wut?) and the description from Netgalley certainly sounded interesting:

A ghost, a philanthropist, a con man, a devout Catholic, a gigolo, a savior, an heir, a common man, and an addict are just some of the words used to describe Michael Enzo, who some sources credit with ghost-writing more than 108 self-help books on behalf of celebrities, politicians and business leaders. After failing to make what he considered to be a positive impact on society he began to destroy those closest to him including Benjamin DeHaven, the author of this book, and former collaborator.

There are different “I’s” in this book. There is the author DeHaven, who gives notes and comments to the diary of Michael Enzo. They were/are/used to be friends, so sometimes you see things from both their perspectives, but it can sometimes also create some confusion. It was also unclear to me if this was an account of a (semi)-true story or not. Some googling showed me that the Michael Enzo did not exist as as such, but does have a facebook page. So it seems there was some effort to make this book go mutli-platform, but I don’t think the execution was professional enough. The fact everything is presented as “real”, while it isn’t, annoys me a bit. Why can’t a book just be a book? And if you make it more, you should do it right, not halfheartedly.

As far as as the book goes, it’s a fascinating read. I like books about the jagged edges of life, with drugs and sex and crime. Although the format takes some time to get used to, this is a nice, different, way of presenting a story. It’s also a short book (176 pages), which makes it perfect for readathons. So, my uncertainty about this book, mostly comes from the presentation as it being more than it is (an actual account of the life of a person). Take this book as justa  book, and you will probably enjoy yourself while reading it.

“Confessions of a self-help writer” will be published on the 1st of July, this year.


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