Review: Chloe Zeegen I Love Myself OK?

Guest author Kristoffer confesses his (intellectual) admiration to Chloe Zeegen, comes out as a hipster and reviews Zeegens last eBook “I love myself, ok?”, all in the same ironically long breath:

chloe zeegen i love myself okChloe,

we first met at the release party for the first issue of STILL, a magazine published by some of my friends. I was tired of literature and readings at the time, but seeing a lot of familiar faces seemed like a cool thing to do. Also they have good beer at West Germany.
The evening went pretty much as expected until you entered the stage and read, no, sorry: recited Let me take you to the park by heart.
Your performance was impressive, sure. But what really blew me away was the story itself.
It was so fucking cliché. Some very personal i.e. autobiographical expat hipster shit. So, you’ve come to Berlin and are now trying to buy some drugs from a shady dealer in a seedy part of town? Good for you. Next, please.
After a few more sentences however, my mood shifted. I got absorbed. Thanks to your deadpan delivery of the story, the rhythmic flow of the language and because I realised I had underestimated you from the beginning.
You were, it turned out, aware that the story was cliché. Interestingly, you didn’t cover that up with irony. Instead, you blended irony with sincerity, only slightly distanced yourself from the protagonist who obviously shared a lot with you.
I thought it was brilliant. Because a lot of other authors would opt for either self-indulgence or the comfortable aloofness irony provides.
However, you allowed your story to implicitly reflect its apparent stereotypical content while at the same time showing off signs of a disarming vulnerability. Much like your business card that (ironically) has your name written on it in Wingdings, but that you (sincerely) use to get your name out, generate interest in you.

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Near the end of Shit and Corruption, another story recently published in your first ebook I love myself ok?, there’s a beautiful passage which I think perfectly illustrates what I’ve just written:
There’s some random there and we chat for a bit but pretty soon he’s like just moved here have you? think you’re an artist? it’s people like you who are destroying Berlin you fucking tourist. I laugh in his face give him the finger but I don’t just give him the finger I pretend to run my tongue over it up and down to show him just how much of a creative little bitch I am and that really pisses him off and his friends are like leave it leave it.
Why write about something that is so cliché, we’ve heard it a thousand times already? Because that’s what happens. There’s no denying that. The stuff you write about, it’s the reality you face, day by day.
Look at us: We’ve been spending a lot of time together in the past few months. There were always, with no exception, drugs of some sort (alcohol, weed, etc.) involved. We go to queer bars, dance the night (and days) away in techno clubs. We talk about art, culture, society, whatever. We are being politically correct, but not all the time. We talk English on the trains that take us to the next bar, club or reading or whatever. We are fucking clichés. We are fucking hipsters. There’s no denying that. The stuff you write about, it’s the reality we construct, day by day.
So leaving that particular anecdote out of it wouldn’t hurt the story, but your stories are not really about what happens, but rather how we deal with it – and how we communicate it.
In communication, fiction and facts overlap. If you sit in a bar telling anecdotes to a stranger, if you call a friend to talk about your feelings or if you update your Facebook status it’s impossible to tell the truth. However truthful and sincere you try to be.
You always interpret anything you encounter in your own way and if you tell someone about it afterwards, there will always be discrepancies because they will interpret your words in their own way.
Drawing attention to that particular problem sure won’t solve it. But that’s where it gets interesting for me. Because you, when you create a distorting mirror of irony and sincerity, showcase what I believe to be the ideal way of dealing with the realities and virtualities – which are, just like fact and fiction, not separate entities – we construct and encounter day by day.
Chloe, you’re not the first writer to implement those thoughts in literature. You’re not even the first to combine that stream-of-consciousness like style and social media lingo.
But your writing brilliantly reflects that the real (in your case: your autobiography, buying drugs, questioning your sexuality) and the virtual (chatting to people on Facebook, Googling stupid shit) are always intertwined. You deconstruct the apparent dichotomies so easily, it’s astonishing. You do so without even talking about it. Your writing subtly reflects it. I love that.
Chloe, I’m so tired of talking about art, the current state of literature and so forth. Where are we where are we heading what’s the point in this will it pay off in the end yadda yadda. It’s boring and often conservative as fuck. You, however, were the first person I’ve ever wanted to meet because of their art.
All of this reminds me of something you have once said about Frank Ocean. How he was “the voice of our generation”. It was weird because you were talking to a white heterosexual middleclass German dude who is eight years younger than you. How can we be part of one generation if there are so many differences between us, so much stuff that divides us?
You weren’t wrong, though. You used the wrong words, I think. You should have said: “the voice that talks to us about what surrounds us”.
There are a lot of those voices talking to us right now. Through music, literature, art, on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. But those voices rarely get it right. But with your voice, well, I feel like it does, it truly (sic!) does.
Sincerely and ironically yours,

Kristoffer

Chloe Zeegen’s ebook I love myself ok? is out now on mikrotext. You can find more information here. You can purchase it at several different online stores. I strongly recommend choosing an independent platform over a huge corporation like Amazon or the not-so-slightly homophobic Weltbild . Go and check out ocelot or Beam, for example.

Kristoffer Cornils has written about music (read his Woodkid review here), literature and related topics for several magazines including spex, VICE and others. He runs a blog which includes his collected articles and writing on music and (pop) culture. Follow him on Facebook!

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