The Kobayashi Maru of Love by Carljoe Javier

Javier’s post-breakup essays, universal in scope and galactic in magnitude, trace the chronological arc from the lover’s disconnection notice, the final severance, and the getting by- which, depending on one’s predilections, can be the road to ruin or the ultimate fast track to freedom. By turns elegiac riff and breezy romp, these essays are the work of an original mind at play

- From the introduction by Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta

I got tickled pink when I first came across the title of this book. I am no Trekkie (Trekker?) but I am an voracious consumer of pop culture and all things geek. So I know that, more or less, this is a book that takes a hackneyed theme like love and treat it with the same passion as geeks do their own fandoms.

Okay so here's the breakdown:

Part I consists of two stories when the author is still with his girlfriend. 

Both stories are light hearted and humorous, largely in part because a geek guy thrust into situations that he is not accustomed to (e.g.taken put of his habitat and onto a a SPA jungle), or prodded to use unusual objects (like a chocolate flavored deodorant),  hilarity almost always ensue.

Part II chronicles the first week, just right after the breakup, where the heartbreak wound is still fresh. It has 7 essays, with each day of the week as their titles (Sun-Sat). 

I was quite surprised by a change of tone in this part. Gone is the lightness and humor of Part I. Instead the 7 essays have this sense of despondency, and loneliness, and a great deal of longing for the girl. The reminiscing of old memories: their DVD-Video Game Saturdays, their old haunts in the mall, their hopes and dreams for a future family. Come Saturday, the 7th day of the break-up, the man still has the rain cloud on top of his head but the rain has let up a bit, at least enough to enjoy Guitar Hero and a carefree night. I appreciated how the 7 essays are written. They are separates pieces really, but has a greater power collectively. I like that the once lovers are enigmatically called "the man" and "the girl" which, as someone in the book points out denotes the disparity in age, and perhaps gives the readers the idea of it being one of the reasons of the relationship's failure. Plus I think it makes the essays much more relatable and real. It is like saying "the man" represents anybody who ever went through a breakup. It could be me, it could be you, it could be anyone.

Part III is still on the post breakup stage, but this time the author starts dating and meeting women. Putting himself out there. 

This part reverts back to the fun and happy tone as was in Part I. A few were anecdotal. Stories of picking-up girls in bookstores, of double dates, and set-ups, and going to clubs, and encounters with metrosexuals. The other essays are musings, thoughts and theories regarding dating and relationships, all told using various pop culture/geeky references like RPG video games, X-Men, Star Wars, and Shakespeare. And nothing is more hilarious than when I read stories about fandoms seeping into real life. Or when you use them to explain real life scenarios. I know, because I do that. Haha. But what is great in Part III aside from the wit and the humor, is that you get this sense of earnestness, and honesty, and at times 'cluelessness'. And just an all around adorkableness.

Others Parts: 
1.The various pieces written by the author's friends: Introduction, Afterword, etc. They were very enjoyable to read and nothing is more welcome than having your homies pimp your book. 
2. KMOL Bonus Stage (contains a few new essays for the 4th edition) - I do love anything that says BONUS. The essays here talks more about family and friends but still very much relationship-related. save for The Permanent Address piece which I thought appeared a bit disjointed from the whole theme.
3. Interview with the Author - I always like books with author interviews because I enjoy reading about the writer's thought process which gave birth to their book. A plus if the interview has some light and  fluffy and uncomfortable questions, thrown in. 

The Conclusion is where the author walks us through his writing process, explains why the book is structured the way that it is structured, as well as how much he has changed since the breakup, and lastly tells us if he has finally found a way to beat the unbeatable "no-win" test that is the Kobayashi Maru of Love. 

His conclusion/answer has a certain world-weariness to it, a sense of resignation, but also, there is a spark of hopefulness. Perhaps it is best summed up in what Mikey said in The Goonies movie: "Goonies Never Say Die!"

One the downside, I still found the incoherent arrangement of the essays a bit disconcerting despite that the author explained the reason behind it. That's my only beef. All in all KMOL is a treat to read. The earnestness and honesty clearly shines through the essays. You can feel it there, even under the jokes and the quips. I do hope non-geeks will not be intimidated by this book. I think it speaks to any human being and not just geeks and fanboys because well, as cliche as this may sound, we all experience love and Carljoe Javier shares us his own experience. And his, is worth reading because he makes us feel like we are blood brothers.


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