Most of the 22 stories found in Michael Kun’s Corrections to My Memoirs explore the large divide between the reality of his characters’ lives and the ways they wish things could be. In doing so, the author forces readers into the uncomfortable position of alternately laughing at the often-desperate people who populate his stories while uneasily and perhaps begrudgingly relating to them. With many references to disgraced writer James Frey (not the least of which is the book’s cover, a blatant parody of Frey’s trade paperback jacket depicting a candy-coated hand on a blue-green background), Kun’s stories manage to be both amusing and depressing.
In ‘Touched, Very Touched’, he explores the doldrums of office life and the absurdity of business communication with a narrator who spends the story giving gracious thanks for winning the “Best Interoffice Email (Nonviolent) (Nonsexual)” award. Anyone who’s worked in a corporate environment will likely appreciate the spoof, though several other pieces included here are structurally more daring. ‘You Have Made Quite a Purchase’ is a comical instruction manual for a piece of office equipment and ‘Fresh Fruit’ presents a one-sided conversation between a motivational speaker and his audience. While often comical, several stories are startlingly dark. The party guests in ‘One Last Story About Girls and Chocolate’ tear at each other with a level of verbal sophistication and subtlety that would make Ed Albee proud.
There are moments, however, when the author seems to be laughing a bit too hard at his own jokes. Two stories in the collection are told partially in footnotes. Funny the first time around, the format seems stale when it appears later in the book. Likewise, there are faux publisher’s notes penned by the author that open each story; they start off as clever send-ups of the comments publisher’s often include with galleys, but become more tedious than amusing as the book progresses. Still, if Kun’s intent is to bring readers to the sad realization that they are as completely delusional as his characters, his goal is ultimately achieved.