‘Diary of an Oxygen Thief’ takes readers’ breath away

The cover of Diary of an Oxygen Thief.

Image courtesy of Amazon

The cover of “Diary of an Oxygen Thief.”

“Hurt people hurt people.

“Say there was a novel in which Holden Caulfield was an alcoholic and Lolita was a photographer’s assistant and, somehow, they met in Bright Lights, Big City. He’s blinded by love. She by ambition. Diary of an Oxygen Thief is an honest, hilarious, and heartrending novel, but above all, a very realistic account of what we do to each other and what we allow to have done to us.”

This is what is printed on the back of Diary of an Oxygen Thief, a 2006 self-published novella by an anonymous Dutch author. It has gained a cult following over the years, making its way into the shelves of famed book giant, Barnes & Noble, notorious for not selling any works not from a publishing house.

While more of a long, personal, reflective essay, Diary of an Oxygen Thief serves to teach readers the lessons learned by the author. And it’s painful to read, in the best way. The truth really does hurt.

The first gripping lines of the book go as follows:

I liked hurting girls.

Mentally, not physically. I never hit a girl in my life. Well, once. But that was a mistake. I’ll tell you about it later. The thing is, I got off on it. I really enjoyed it.

It’s like when you hear serial killers say they feel no regret, no remorse for all the people they killed. I was like that. Loved it. I didn’t care how long it took either, because I was in no hurry. I’d wait until they were totally in love with me. Till the big saucer eyes were looking at me. I loved the shock on their faces. Then the glaze as they tried to hide how much I was hurting them. And it was legal. I think I killed a few of them. Their souls, I mean. It was their souls I was after. I know I came close a couple of times. But don’t worry, I got my comeuppance. That’s why I’m telling you this. Justice was done. Balance has been restored. The same thing happened to me, only worse. Worse because it happened to me. I feel purged now, you see. Cleansed. I’ve been punished, so it’s okay to talk about it all. At least that’s how it seems to me. I carried the guilt of my crimes around with me for years after I stopped drinking.

As you continue, the narrator brings up his own misgivings, and quotes Elbert Hubbard, an American writer: “They say you’re not punished for your sins, you’re punished by them.”

He continues to recount his sins, his downward spiral, and how karma finds a way to get him back for what he’d done. He is brutally honest and is not afraid to admit his feelings, nor recount the humiliation he experienced in his heartbreak, which is refreshing. You never really get to hear about how men truly feel when they face rejection. They’re usually too proud to own up to their emotions, while the narrator lays it all out on the table for everyone to see.

He shows what love does to a person, and how, when wrong, can eat at your soul and hurt you in ways love isn’t supposed to. And he realizes that everything he has done has come back to him, proving the old adage of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

This book is poignant and eloquent in the way it details these events that happen to people every day, and it’s an exposé on human frailty. I wish wholeheartedly that I could meet the author in person and talk to him — he follows me on Twitter, though. But I can’t wait until my Barnes & Noble order of the next book in the Oxygen Thief diaries comes in the mail.