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All My Friends Are Superheroes [Paperback]

Andrew Kaufman
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Oct. 16 2003 --  
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Book Description

Oct. 16 2003

All Tom's friends really are superheroes. There's the Ear, the Spooner, the Impossible Man. Tom even married a superhero, the Perfectionist. But at their wedding, the Perfectionist was hypnotized (by ex-boyfriend Hypno, of course) to believe that Tom is invisible. Nothing he does can make her see him. Six months later, she's sure that Tom has abandoned her. So she's moving to Vancouver. She'll use her superpower to make Vancouver perfect and leave all the heartbreak in Toronto. With no idea Tom's beside her, she boards an airplane in Toronto. Tom has until the wheels touch the ground in Vancouver to convince her he's visible, or he loses her forever.

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With his debut novel, All My Friends Are Superheroes, Andrew Kaufman officially enters the ranks of Not Your Mother's Can Lit. Like other young Canadian writers who have turned their backs on the tired subjects of forgotten history and family sagas, Kaufman writes not what will sell but what he knows: the mediascape and pop culture. A weird hybrid of fable, urban angst, and comic geekdom, All My Friends Are Superheroes is a light-hearted novel that skewers literary pretensions as much as our banal world of office drones and boring, meaningless lives. It follows the tale of Tom, who is trying to find a way to make his wife notice him again before she moves from Toronto to Vancouver and out of his life forever. While this is hardly an original plot, Kaufman makes it new with a few twists: Tom's wife doesn't notice him because she's been hypnotized into thinking he's invisible, and the urban scenesters who populate the novel all have super powers.

In fact, everybody in Tom's world has a super power--everybody but Tom, that is. However, these powers are for the most part useless, more neuroses than anything else. There's the Perfectionist, who is obsessed with making things orderly; the Businessman, who can assess people's worth just by looking at them; the Couch Surfer, who can survive extreme poverty; and many more. Think Sheila Heti meets Jim Munroe. At a slim 112 pages, All My Friends Are Superheroes is more of a romp through the culture of young urban professionals and our society's accumulated personality disorders than it is a comprehensive or meaningful examination of any serious issues. But Kaufman makes it clear that his goal isn't to write literature with a capital "L"; it's to make literature fun again. And we all know there's nothing more fun than superheroes. --Peter Darbyshire


We have here a very short tale, probably less than 30,000 words, however the laughs are plentiful. One has to suspend disbelief and accept the narrator’s statement that “There are 249 superheroes in the City of Toronto. . . None of them have secret identities. Very few wear costumes.” Tom, our narrator, is married to the Perfectionist, whose superpower is an ability to will things to be orderly. On their wedding day, a bad superhero, Hypno, hypnotizes the Perfectionist to believe Tom is invisible. Thinking Tom has disappeared the Perfectionist is heartbroken and six months later decides to fly to Vancouver to start life anew. Tom occupies the “empty” seat beside her and he has until the landing in Vancouver to convince her he is there or he will lose her forever. A decent premise, however it is imperative that, by whatever means, Tom solve his own problem. This doesn’t happen which makes for a real letdown at the end. The positive aspect of the story is Tom’s descriptions of the superheroes. For instance, The Couch Surfer: “Empowered with the ability to sustain life and limb without a job, steady companion or permanent place of residence. . . is not only able to withstand long periods of acute poverty but is also able to nutritionally sustain himself on only handfuls of breakfast cereals, slices of dry bread and condiments. Mysteriously always has cigarettes.” The standup comedy aspect of the descriptions of the superheroes is worth a quick glance.
W.P. Kinsella (Books in Canada)
-- Books in Canada

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cute Little Book April 8 2004
A friend who gave me this book called it "a cute little book," and while he wasn't trying to stop me from reading it, he almost did. And he was right, but in the best way he could be. This is indeed a "cute, little" book, being both short (just over 100 pages) and cute (meaning light-hearted and funny). It's a sweet urban love story that is both surprisingly clever and unexpectedly poignant. More than anything else, though, this is a wildly funny and inventive little book that you'll want to recommend to both your friends and enemies, superheroes or not.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Being regular is super! April 28 2004
By A Customer
Kaufman does a good job of showing how being a regular guy can be special. Following Tom, who has become invisible to his wife, the story tells his experiences with the superheroes of Toronto. Descriptions of the character's superheroes friends are also included throughout the book and it is brilliant how Kaufman can make an unexceptional behaviour a super power.
Overall a very enjoyable and fun read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great Jan. 20 2010
I liked this book because author Kaufman has a knack for looking at the different qualities people have and attributing super powers to them. For example the person who needs things to always be perfect has the super power of the Perfectionist. The person who always has a chip on their shoulder has the super power of the Chip. And so on. I was amazed at his (Kaufman's) ability identify these traits in people and make them interesting.

I disliked this book because the story, in my opinion, was too cutesy. Maybe I was expecting too much from a book with the title of "All my friends are superhereos", I don't know. But I struggled to retain interest in the story. Were it not for the interesting characters, I probably would not have finished this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great read March 21 2008
By elfdart TOP 1000 REVIEWER
this was a good story. the protagonist, who is just a normal guy, know all of these people with 'super powers', but they're odd super powers, like he's dating the perfectionist, who makes everything perfect. there was a guy who's super power was to take tension away from people, so he was always invited to parties, and my personal favourite, the spooner, who would sneak into the houses of lonely women to spoon with them. these kinds of things. so it was more of an an everyday interpretation of a super hero, making specific human characteristics super. because the super powers were so 'common' each interaction the protagonist had with a super hero seemed like a journey within the self because we, of course, all have at least a little of every 'power' within ourselves. so in that respect its an interesting read. but the ending is cute, even if you don't get over analytical like some (>.>).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply satisfying July 14 2004
All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman is like getting the precise helping of your favourite food the very moment you crave it.
An excellent read that holds up over time. I first read it late last year and recently brought it with me on a road trip. Despite knowing exactly how things turn out I found myself falling for the characters again.
Do yourself a favour and buy two copies. That way you won't have to give yours away.
I'm looking forward to Kaufman's next work.
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