After reading Julie C. Morse’s new book Out of the Box: The Mostly True Story of a Mysterious Man I had a lot to think about. Mostly I wondered how such an interesting person ended up selling boxes for a living, but in the end I concluded what you do for a living doesn’t determine you who you are.
Out of the Box
As protagonist Bob Harris says many times through the book, his success is tied to the philosophy of “good accounts, secured faithfully.” Really, all of life can be boiled down to this ideal—your character is what defines you.
But I nearly said “no” to this book.
I was deterred by the subtitle, “the mostly true story of a mysterious man.” MOSTLY true? What does that mean? Which parts? How am I supposed to read it? All the subtitle says to me is I still haven’t managed to figure out creative non-fiction.
I mean, is it true or not? Can something be mostly true?
Since I already edit as I read I didn’t want to add questioning truth to the docket as well.
Bob Harris’ story was well worth the battle. He had big ideas and wasn’t limited by things most of us would be daunted by. He invented, battled, sold, schmoozed, charmed, and adventured through life. And the world. For me the best part of Harris’ story is despite the business success, travelling adventures, and crazy stories, it’s obvious he valued and cultivated deep and lifelong friendships above it all.
I’m inspired by his courage to live life by his own terms.
Further musings about Out of the Box
This is the first self-published book I’ve reviewed and I suppose my main critique of self-published books is true for this one as well: it could use a really good edit.
Words like “literally” and “figuratively” were overused. The paragraphs seemed to follow a repetitive pattern, which is something I’ve never noticed before. And, well, I could probably have done without the last chapter altogether. I think I see what Morse was getting at but I didn’t feel like it added anything to the story. And as for the made up “Julianna” character. I found her unnecessary and confusing. Bob Harris is a strong enough character to carry the story all by himself—I mean, that seems to be the story of his entire life.
All that to say I think Harris’ story is compelling enough to see past the hiccups and a really interesting read.