The Horizon

A Date with an O2 Thief

2006 Dutch novel, Diary of an Oxygen Thief was called a "surprise dark-horse Williamsburg best seller" by New York Magazine,but does it live up to the expectation?

Lydia Wieczorek, Staff Reporter

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“I liked hurting girls. Mentally, not physically … the thing is, I got off on it. I really enjoyed it,” the anonymous author writes in his opening line, reeling you in with what feels like a punch in the stomach but leaving you begging for more.

The premise is simple, “The Diary of an Oxygen Thief” follows the story of an Irish man as he navigates women, his alcohol dependency and the advertising job he hates. It is a real and honest account of a legacy of pain, neglect and abuse. The book describes what was done to us, what motivates us to hurt others and ultimately what comes back to hurt us.

The anonymous author wastes no time getting into the mind of his character, who presumably is himself, going into vivid detail of his ritualistic tendencies in hurting women in a series of haphazard journal-like recollections. He seduces women into his world by pretending to be that guy: the one who’s a good listener and leans in further as if to catch every word that hangs from the corner of your mouth.

He makes love with his eyes wide open, looking into you as he plots his perfect move for destruction. Just when a woman exposes her heart to him, he bails. He ghosts them and says it’s just not working out. This is how he lives, constantly hopping from one relationship to the next to get his next dose of slow bleeding satisfaction.

The author doesn’t even try to disguise his true identity (except for his name, ironically) fully playing into the absurdity that is a man in this state. He is a self admitted sociopathic alcoholic with misogynistic tendencies that makes you love to hate him.

He immerses you in what it is like to both be him and one of his victims. In 151 pages, the author manages to say so much while almost saying nothing at all and despite this, it works. You won’t be able to put the book down and before you know it, you will be questioning your own self-destructing behavior.

Anonymous knows who he is and never backs down in making sure you know too. So if you’re looking for a run of the mill story plot, where the villain redeems himself in some sort of self realization, this is not the novel for you.

Anonymous feeds on what makes this novel so compelling to his reader — that viciousness. The bond he forms with you as you read page after page, collecting his memories as your own.

“Diary of an Oxygen Thief” is a brilliantly raw and uncensored book, not aimed for the faint of heart, but those looking for something that shys away from the norm of fiction — realness.

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