The year I loved the Dismemberment Plan more than any other band in the world was also the most boring year of my life. Boring in a boring way, too, the way things are boring when you’re 15 and average and marooned in the world of your childhood. I worked an after-school job at a Catholic uniform store and came home by a bus route whose most interesting feature was a graveyard. I lived in Toronto, but I’d stopped smoking weed and without a fake ID I had nothing to do on weekends except ride the streetcar and chain smoke. Sometimes my best friend and I voyaged out into the suburbs, which were exotic to us—all the bands we liked came from the suburbs. One of the best nights of the year involved an acoustic concert at a Timothy’s in Whitby; the lead singer finger-banged me during an early-morning rerun of MacGyver.

The poet/critic/professor’s collection of essays makes you want to love what he loves—Susan Sontag, Debbie Harry—though he’s less interested in discourse than he is in the act of loving itself.

We people have a basic yearning for the guileless genius, or the guilelessly ingenious: the outsider artists who do their work in a vacuum, and so create something truly original; the eccentric citizen rumbling with untapped charisma until a news anchor sticks a microphone in his face; the accidentally hilarious spambot. We expect to be deceived, so we dream of a spectacle that doesn’t deceive us, as well as proof of innocence in the world. And then we’re deceived.

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