Review of "Algernon and the Narcissus" by Die$el

As a college student, he feared it would happen again. On the eve of February, his fear came true.

An eighteen-year old Asian American teenager found himself against the bed. According to the police report, the manuscript of his novella, The Blank Album, contained unusually graphic and shocking content.

This did not shock him.

Four years ago, the Virginia Tech massacre occurred. He felt its wrath ever since. Time and time again, he found himself in trouble for his one true passion. And he doesn't know to stop it from happening.

Now grown up, he struggles to find redemption in his writing again. His last hope lies in Honesty, his social justice writing class. Will he succeed, or will he fail trying?

Let me say first and foremost, there is a lot of ego in this piece. It is, at times, difficult to sympathize with the author’s situation. He’s young and insecure, a fact he overcompensates for with a serious superiority complex. Only a few pages in I found myself wanting to tell him to get over himself and move on. Really? You can’t share your work with the world so we must pity you? Move over for someone who has REAL problems.

However, I reached a turning point when the author pointed out that this was more a case of ageism than anything else. Throughout history, we have celebrated, even encouraged, the eccentricities of artists. At times it is even expected. Dark, tragic, tortured...these are the qualities that go so often with genius. Unfortunately, when these qualities are observed in teenagers they take on a whole new meaning. For better or worse, it is socially unacceptable to be tragic until you are at least in your mid-twenties. Seen from this point of view, Die$el’s frustration is much more palatable.

That being said, Die$el’s strength lies in the big picture. The writing is good, perhaps even better than most. Smooth and descriptive with minimal grammatical errors, I enjoyed, but was not blown away by the technical execution of this piece. However, any piece that causes the reader to give pause and reconsider a social norm is, in my opinion, worth reading. Even better when the author leaves the reader conflicted on the issue. This author has something to say that goes beyond obnoxious teen angst, and his point is certainly worth listening to. If you can wade through the ego, there is a raw, honest quality to this piece that is both thought provoking and appealing.

4/5 stars
Reviewed by Aubrey Bennet


  1. Good review; sounds an interesting story and one I might well check out.


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