Marc Maron wants to connect the dots of his life, little or big instances that stick out to him and reference one another. I think for the most part we all do. Some are more obsessive about it than others. It’s likely that people who aren’t religious or spiritual are more inclined to this process of analyzing life in order to “make sense of it all.” I agree with Maron: life, more specifically his life, is not merely a random set of coincidences. Life is literary because literature is drawn from life, and so be it that Maron makes literature out of his life. I suppose that this is the goal of all memoirs, when it comes down to it. He draws from anecdotes not only immortalized through his albums and specials, but also from segments and interviews of his podcast. These are the dots he connects.
Of course, connecting the dots is a selfish act, as nobody really benefits from it besides you. “I guess I’m selfish,” charmingly enough, is the final line to Maron’s expansive effort to connect points of his life to one another, Attempting Normal. So aptly named, the books two dividing points are entitled “Attempting” and “Normal.” “Attempting” describes periods of his life marked by excessive drug use, run-ins with prostitutes, and other struggles that ended his marriages. “Normal” describes recent things he’s learned about his mother, why he hates Whole Foods, and talking to his current girlfriend about having children together. Outside of three “near death” experiences, this is Maron turning over a new page. The problem with Maron’s memoir arises because it would seem he never really achieves normality. Rather, he has found his place in the world of comedy, but he has not found peace with much of the world around him.
This memoir culminates with a moment where the comedian finally examines his life so far to reach some sort of conclusion. The conclusion being his keynote address at the 2011 Montreal Just For Laughs Festival, what he sees as a turning point in his career. This is the end of the story for now, another connecting of the dots. It’s what he does with every episode of his podcast, his new IFC show, and his latest record. He’s doing none of it for you, or anyone else who may be listening. He’s certainly not doing it for an industry he playfully mocks. He’s not doing it for any of his ex wives.
In fact, he’s doing it for himself. As he said, he is selfish. And that’s perfectly okay. At the end of the day, when he is done working through his life events, he puts them out into the world for us to hear. He invites us to relate and find comfort in the shared human experience that pulls us to the world of comedy in the first place. He offers less wisdom, and more self-reflection. Attempting Normal doesn’t really change your outlook on anything, but it provides comfort and many laughs along the way. For now, that is good enough.