‘Art of Living Other People’s Lives’ a Haphazard Ramble

‘Art of Living Other People’s Lives’ a Haphazard Ramble

Elite Daily editor's book both artful and awful

Dybec Memoir a String of Interesting, If Disconnected Stories

“The Art of Living Other People’s Lives,” had moments of haphazardly strung together brilliance.

The memoir of Greg Dybec, the managing editor of Elite Daily – a fact he reminds the reader of often – reads in a stream of consciousness – as though he is regaling us with random and crazy stories from his life over beers.

This method worked well when he was recalling things like the story of when he almost took the job writing articles about men’s underwear; however, somewhere near the halfway mark I started to wonder how the stories come together.

The answer is they never do. The other answer – I am still not sure if it matters.

The book had a lot of great and even powerful moments, and it is apparent that Dybec is an insightful writer for this internet-driven age. And yet, the writing felt undercooked and at times like a personal resume written in prose form.

I haven’t been so torn on my opinion of a book in a long time, which made this an interesting read. I had visceral reactions – both positively and negatively. I found myself laughing out loud, then fighting the urge to throw the book in a moment of anger towards the narrator’s thoughts and confessions. Whatever this book is or isn’t, I can say for sure that it was not boring.

Dybec goes on tangents of exposition that border somewhere between insightful and arrogant. He has several stories about travelling abroad, which were interesting and even funny until he interrupted the flow of the scenes with superfluous explanation of who he is as a person.

Perhaps one of the more relevant stories in the book was about the time he taught his mother to use social media, since a common thread, given the title and theme, was about the internet and living our lives more and more online. This story was filled with humor and irony, and had a subtlety I appreciated.

Then there was a story about the summer Dybec became a pick-up artist. This is where the arrogance of the voice and the strange meandering style almost lost me.

This part of the story was cringe-worthy and ultimately felt unresolved. It read as though Dybec truly believed he was a great pick-up artist. He writes a half-hearted scene about the moment he stopped “negging” – backhandedly complimenting and manipulating women – and how he felt better for doing so, but it still reads as a dangerous possible validation of the practice in general.

“The Art of Living Other People’s Lives” is available at all major book retailers in paperback and eBook.

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Lex Voytek is a nervous wreck and reading quiets the noise. Reach her at books@freeabq.com.
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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.