I was randomly searching minimalism one day when I came across Joshua Fields Millburn’s name and his novel, “As a Decade Fades”. He had tweeted a specific line that resonated with me and I didn’t need convincing to go online and order his book. When the book arrived I could not put it down.
As a Decade Fades is an easy read. It is simple, yet complicated. Jody’s story is our story in many ways and it is not in some ways. The reader is hooked not by extravagant use of words and complicated plots, but we are pulled in as we read about real life experiences like our own.
There is a nice balance between humor and tragedy. There are points in our lives where we question ourselves and the paths we’ve have walked. Is it time for a detour?
“He wasn’t sure when it had happened, but one day he woke up halfway between somewhere and nowhere and he was twenty-something and nearing thirty as the decade faded.”
As I read “…Safety inside the prison –freedom from freedom….” , I closed my book listening to Chopin. I went back in time, remembering when I opened my one suitcase on a bed of a settlement, temporary housing for refugees. I felt safe and optimistic about my future, but sad knowing what I had left behind. A single suitcase on a bed was loaded with tragic and triumphant stories. Jody’s story was my story.
Jody’s character keeps reminding himself to focus on the present and leave the past behind. But we truly can never separate ourselves from our pasts. “…how pointless this life might be without a past, and how miserable it was with one.”
Falling While Sitting Down – “The boy did not want to remember much about that Man, so he didn’t.” His childhood was filled with various forms of abuse and trauma. He really did not have supervision or role model of any kind growing up.“…the boy made friends with various elements of certain fringe social blocs….but he never attempted to adapt to their tenets or fully integrate into any one particular group…” I just wanted to reach out inside the book and hold little Jody. Jody grew up like the rest of us with “…a duffle bag filled with painful memories and future regrets.”
I love music, rain, solitude at times, I don’t sleep well most of the times, have had failed relationships, lost people due to natural causes or suicide,….in so many ways Jody is us and we are him. When he is sitting on the rooftop writing his songs and thinking about the rain… that is the most beautiful part for me. “But things hadn’t always been this way, and his life hadn’t always been held together by trepidation and disdain and by the sum of what love wasn’t.” Or when he writes for his mom, “People don’t know how to love the ones they love until they disappear from their lives”. We all have lost people in our lives and in that moment we can relate to Jody and what he is feeling.
Jody’s adult sex life is filled with extremely beautiful young women that are described mostly as Caucasians, with blond hair, with perfect slim bodies and FLAT STOMACHS! This is exactly what a patriarchal society tells us a beautiful woman should look like! There is a brief reference where the author tries to challenge society’s patriarchic view of women by posing this question: “How come guys can have sex with all kinds of women and we’re considered manly or whatever, but if a women has more than one partner, she’s a slut?” But the conversation that follows is of sex humor and more misogynistic comments.
I found the speeding ticket part of the book extremely funny. I got my first ever speeding ticket last year when I was taking my sick child and myself to the doctor’s office and was feeling miserable. The officer said: “Maam, you were going 78 in 50 Km zone!” All I could think was **** I wasn’t even blasting my favourite song or rolling my window down and changing lanes. What a shitty way to get a ticket! As a Decade Fades provides the reader with an experience that is very personal. You’d think that was me! I did that or said that. The whole car ride with the music and jokes was hilarious.
“Sometimes love is sad. Sometimes it drops your heart from a great height and it shatters into a million tiny shards, and those shards are sharp and painful.” And of course the story cannot be without love and heartache. There are many simple but profound lines in the book that deal with love and relationships and who we are.
Jody shows us that we are not perfect. We may have had a rough childhood and many unpleasant experiences growing up and even throughout our adult lives. That is the reality of life. We will face many struggles and triumphs. As a Decade fades says it best: “Perhaps one must sit in the valley to see the beauty of the mountaintop, to appreciate his ascent, to live a purpose-filled life. And perhaps the key is to not live in the valley, but rather, to be aware of why you were there and prepare for the journey ahead.”
I enjoyed reading As a Decade Fades as it reminded me I am only human and I am entitled to make mistakes and to learn from them. It also teaches us about hope and optimism, although I feel like I have to read a follow up story to learn about Jody’s life in Ohio with the “Girl in the White Summer Dress”.
“Lie by me, we can be alone together.
Lie to me, we can believe these lies forever.”