The Life of Ismael Manzano
by Ismael Manzano
Ladies and gentlemen, for your reading pleasure, I present to you a review to prove just how crazy I truly am. I present a review, not of a book, movie, CD or event, but of a life—namely mine.
He was born almost thirty years ago on a brisk autumn morning. It was the eleventh of September—9/11, what does that tell you?—and Ismael Manzano was born two weeks premature, breach and slightly blue. From a literary standpoint, this a brilliant use of foreshadowing and metaphors, as being impatient, backwards and slightly depressed, would become themes throughout Ismael’s life.
Unbeknownst to anyone, Ismael was born with a narcissistic, ill-tempered muse inside of him, one that seeded and festered dreams in his head and often drove him to flights of fancy throughout his life. This muse first manifested when Ismael was about eight and truly took hold when he was about eleven or twelve. That’s when Ismael was first bitten by the writing bug. The muse—let’s call him Artie—spoke in Ismael’s ear, giving him ideas, nurturing his desires for fame and popularity.
Ironically, this muse also isolated Ismael from his peers. It made him cocky and self-absorbed, made him believe that his talent put him above others and kept him from playing many sports. Artie had Ismael convinced he was going to be a writer, and a great one at that, so Ismael did not bother much with social interaction or sports, or much of anything that normal children do. It wasn’t entirely Artie’s fault, but it did perpetuate the existing problem that kept Ismael—for the most part—socially isolated.
When the creative needs of the muse were not met, the narcissist within him branched out into other areas of his life, infecting him, making him believe that he deserved better, that his failures were the fault of other people, and that he was without flaws in all things.
Ismael’s actions while under the thrall of the beast within him, cost him opportunities, love and friendship—and it cost those around him unnecessary pain. The Artie kept him stagnant, kept him from moving forward with his life, kept him waiting for the perfect everything to fall into his lap, while filling his head with delusions that he did not have to work for any of it, that he deserved it all and it would all come to him. Believing the beast, Ismael lived a life filled with mistakes, indifference and indecision, a mediocre life with only a few very, very bright spots that kept him going.
Luckily for the protagonist, those bright spots held firm to his life and helped him to find some measure of control. He found friendship and love, and managed to make opportunities to better himself, shedding his stagnant persona and actually working toward a goal. Those bright spots became his life.
His failures actually helped to quell the narcissistic beast within him and helped him to see his goals in a more realistic light—occasionally. Those that were annoyed by his tendency for self-deprecation, failed to understand that it was really a way to taming the beast within him, a way to keep things in balance.
And so, as the Life of Ismael Manzano—part I—comes to a close, we see the internal struggle seemingly at rest at last and the protagonist finally taking steps toward a better, more realistic goal.
All in all, I found the Life of Ismael Manzano to be an interesting life, mediocre at times, but rich with character, humor and things to make you think.
What I hate the most about the Life of Ismael Manzano is also what I like the most about it—Ismael. He’s a flawed character: not brave, not observant, selfish, half-crazy, and far too lost in his own world to always notice or appreciate things that are around. He’s a creature of habit, and his habits are often self-defeating or serve only to keep him stagnant. But his flaws are what make him unique. It’s what seems to draw people to him, what seems to get them behind him and his endeavors. For example, most people who met Ismael will automatically claim that he’s a good writer without having ever read his works. Even though he says he genuinely hates everyone around him, people love him for his honestly…or because his lie is so transparent.
He has a long way to go in life, but he has made some remarkable progress in stepping out of his habits and trying new things. The tragedy of this character is that the happiness he seeks will only be found in his writing, in becoming a successful, published writer, and that dream, may never come true. Even if it does, his dream of becoming the youngest published writer in the world has already died, and all he can hope for now is to be something close to the ideal that he had set for himself years ago.
If the sequel continues on the course that this life so far has started, I’m sure it will be a great success. And if not, well…
Related Article: Random Acts Archive
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