The concept for The Imperfect Enjoyment was formed in the mid-2000s when Myspace was like a 24 hour nightclub. I was blogging there to amuse myself and a large, loyal audience caught wind of what they referred to as my "unique voice," which pretty much meant I was able to cleverly describe my personal inadequacies and shortcomings with women and relate that to something larger and more important.
The story of The Imperfect Enjoyment revolves around a secret and forbidden relationship I had with a Muslim student from the Middle East while teaching at university. (Note: I was 22 when I started teaching at the college level; she was 19 and not my student, though a student at the same university.) It begins shortly after 9/11 and reflects tensions between her family and us primarily due to religion, race and other cultural differences, which in some ways reflects the larger tensions between Arabs and Americans in general. Though the story is sad at its core, it’s not my style to write in a melodramatic, depressing manner. I gained my audience by writing in a humorous manner and didn’t take myself seriously enough to change that for the book. I think the passage below reflects the sort of passive political quips you’ll find in my work.
“I stroll through the mall and come across a group of black people. Thanks to the simple-America feel of Lincoln, I wrongly assume the blacks here would be stuck in the 1990s, with high-top fades and Hammer pants, only recently hearing about the Rodney King beating. But in actuality, these are modern and regular black people. The type with the African American predisposition to believe in conspiracy theories, like that Tupac is in Jamaica working as a scuba instructor or that hospitals inject blacks with tainted immunizations that cause cravings for unhealthy food such as fried chicken and hog maws. Shit, these people are black enough to make me instinctively switch from standard English to a more African American vernacular, saying “What’s up?” instead of “How you doing?” just so they know I’m also ‘black enough.’”
The end result is a hilarious but touching book that uses humor to navigate between love, promiscuity, redemption and culture. My goal was to write a book that captured the essence of the times. Something that people could read down the road and think, “So that’s what post-college life was like during the early 2000s…the Bush years were crazy!” In short, The Imperfect Enjoyment is a story but actually more of a philosophical statement. The statement being, “Do what you’ll smile at 20 years down the road.”
Well, I hope you give my work a shot. The reviews have been great and the responses I’ve gotten from individual people have been humbling. The common response being, “I didn’t think I would like a book like this.”
I hope you give it a shot. If all else fails I’ll return to blogging on Myspace. Thanks for reading.
Dewan Gibson is a humorist and author of The Imperfect Enjoyment. His work has appeared in Defenestration Magazine, the International Journal of Intercultural Relations and Hobo Pancakes, among other publications. Prior to pursuing a writing career he earned a master’s degree in intercultural communication and taught at San Diego State University. Dewan is currently conducting health disparities research and writing a nonfiction humor book about working in a community clinic. He can be reached on his blog at http://www.imperfectenjoyment.com/.