REVIEW: The Apology by Christian TeBordo

Fiction. 178 pages. Astrophil Press. Nov 2021. Buy it here.

There’s something punk rock about TeBordo’s writing. Suburban, but punk rock. Or, at least my understanding of punk rock. I was born in 1990. I grew up listening to Prince and Mariah Carey. Maybe I’m starting all of this wrong.

The Apology is an episode of The Office turned into an episode of Fargo turned into a thought exercise written by Albert Camus. Our narrator is a man with a new identity, who is either the butt of an elaborate prank or his own worst enemy or simply the unlucky recipient of life’s mundane chaos. Either way, he’s a rebel in a tie and reluctantly charming. I actually don’t know if he wears a tie. But I like Mike Long. I’d like to have a beer with him (I know, I’m sorry).

I’m usually not a fan of the postmodernist’s need to remind me that the text is a text, but in the case of The Apology, the meta-asides felt conversational and attune with the nature of an “apology,” both in the philosophical and non-philosophical sense.

I know The Apology is good because not only did it leave me in the forgiving spirit, but I found myself continuing to turn the page even as my three-week-old daughter slept in the crook of my other arm. I’m exhausted, but I wanted to read this book more than I wanted to make myself breakfast.

TeBordo has a way of addressing our existential dread without getting all soapy about it. Yes, the world doesn’t exist, except sometimes or most of the times it does, and it doesn’t really matter, but that doesn’t mean actions don’t have consequences.

What’s remarkable about The Apology is how beautifully unapologetic it all feels. Mike Long is wildly imperfect, and that’s okay—except it isn’t. Not to the coworkers who inhabit his office.

Maybe my exhaustion is what made The Apology so appealing. A large part of me doesn’t give a fuck about much these days. I’m tired of everything. Of the charades and the parades. But I do love books, and this seemed to fall right in the gooey center in which I’m still vulnerable to caring about something. The world may be exhausting, but Christian TeBordo certainly is not.


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