That’s how Diary of An Oxygen Thief by “Anonymous” begins. And from a lot of the reviews of this book that I read before picking up a copy of my own, it sure seems like that’s about as far as a lot of readers got into it. Which is an outright shame.
Not only is that a remarkably strong opening line, but it’s a great setup for the story that follows – which turns out to be one of my favorite books I’ve read in quite a long time.
The back cover description says “Say Holden Caulfield was an alcoholic and Lolita was a photographer’s assistant and somehow they met in Bright Lights, Big City.” And I guess it’s kind of like that, but honestly it’s much, much more.
On the surface, Oxygen Thief reads like a story of misogynistic fuckboy culture, but that’s honestly just the frame in which this story is told. Personally, I’d compare it more to The Picture of Dorian Gray than anything else, as it’s a modern (as Dorian Gray was at its time) look at the culture of self-gratification by any means necessary. It’s rough and it’s dirty and you pretty much hate everyone in the book. But the reason you hate them so much isn’t just that they are bad people, but instead that they are realistic people.
What “Anonymous” has done here is write a straightforward, modern novel about relationships, love, and hate. It holds up the mirror to our modern day selves, and while the reader might think that everything reflected is dirty and distorted because of flaws in the mirror, we end up even more disgusted when we realize all those flaws aren’t in the mirror after all – but flaws in our own selves.
To go into the actual story here would be to cheat you all of an amazing read, and so in this review I will refrain from it. Just know that if you like your stories raw and realistic and maddening and heartbreaking, you need to pick this one up.
Note there are several sequels, none of which I’ve read yet… but they’re on my list.
P.S. If you liked this book, you’ll probably also dig my book, A CONFESSION.