"I think we should break up," she said, and while at that instant most of my being was utterly crushed, the venal aspiring novelist within me thrilled at a new experience I could spin into Great Fiction. For the next months I devoted my creative energies to the Great Break-up Story, the story that would help me Understand, the story that would win me the affection of heartbroken teens everywhere (and maybe, I hoped, of my Ex). For months, I tried to pour all my self-pity into prose, only to find I had infinitely much of it. Every night I would write, and every morning I would read what I had written and see that it was bottomlessly awful. I was wasting my time. Now, I think the best advice one could give to a moping lovesick teen is "get over it", and the second best advice a swift kick in the arse.
All of which is to say: break-ups make bad fiction, and On Optimism is no exception. Here, the jilted lover, in a touch of extreme melodrama, wanders through the chambers of his ex-girlfriend's heart, where he encounters lots of bad poetry and bad, bathetic writing. There's a boatload of obvious symbolism, Jesus appears in the mix, and it's all framed by a redemptive suicide. A few memorable images save this from a 1, but in general the game is painful stuff, and not in the way it was meant to be.