Review: ‘All My Friends Are Superheroes’ by Andrew Kaufman

all my friends are superheroes

This was a very quick read at barely over 100 pages. I first heard about it through YouTube personality (/ actress / singer / author / whatever new career she’s picked up since I last looked…) Carrie Hope Fletcher, who has mentioned it several times as her favourite book. It also kept cropping up as a suggested read on various bookish website I frequent across the interwebz. I took the fact that I kept hearing its name as a sign and bought a second hand copy and I am really glad that I did. It is an absolutely charming story, and I’m really glad to have found Andrew Kaufman as an author.

Andrew Kaufman’s writing is excellently suited to the space of a novella. He tightly compresses familiar routines and emblems of modern day life together with fantastical embellishments so closely you could forget for a moment that superheroes aren’t real. His world-building is perfectly pitched. The reader is completely included in his fictional world, without being exhausted by detailed description of it.

To give a brief summary of the concept, all of the friends that Tom has really are superheroes. He’s actually married to one, The Perfectionist – but at their wedding, her ex-boyfriend (Hypno) hypnotised her, and now Tom is invisible to her. She cannot see him at all. Six months later and she is getting on a plane to leave her life and start again. He has the plane journey to convince her that he’s there. This book has a lot of flashback, starting in the airport and filling you in on the details of the situation as you go on.

I’m equally impressed with the number of characters Kaufman introduces and maintains within a very short text. The size of the cast functions in part because many characters are reduced to single pieces of personality – in essence, their superpower becomes them. The Perfectionist, Business Man, Hypno… we know them by and because of their superpower. Some of them, the people who are centred, we get to know better, but Kaufman can introduce us to a lot of imaginatively named superheroes because they don’t need too much grounding. All of his characters are wonderful exercises of imagination, and because the text is so contained, it never feels underdeveloped.

I enjoyed this enough to seek out more of Andrew Kaufman’s writing. I have since purchased and read another novella of his titled The Tiny Wife, which I really enjoyed – actually a little more than All My Friends Are Superheroes!

This novella is a great read, immersive and satisfying as a self-contained story with its own mythology of sorts, with a very direct storytelling style, and intensely imaginative.

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