My Life of Crime Cover

An awkward visit to a nude beach. A bike-pedaling angel careening through rush-hour traffic. The mystery of a sandwich found in a bathroom stall. A lyric, rainy-day ramble through the East Village. With the personal essays (and three other entertainments) in this debut collection, Tyler C. Gore reveals the artistic secrets of his life of crime: a charming wit, compassionate observation, perfection of style, and, over all, a winsomely colorful light tinged with just enough despair. Whether stewing over a subway encounter with a deranged businessman, confessing his sordid past as a prankster, or recounting his family’s history of hoarding, Gore is by turns melancholy, profound and hilarious. The collection culminates with the novella-length essay “Appendix,” a twisted, sprawling account of routine surgery that grapples with evolution, mortality, strangely attractive doctors, simulated universes, and an anorexic cat. My Life of Crime conjures up from the flotsam of an individual life something uncannily majestic: an insomniac contemplation of life in our eternal, twenty-four-hour New York City, infused throughout with its grit, humanity, unexpected romance, and the poignant intimacy of all the lives joined together within it.

An excerpt, and an interview with the author by David Winner, can be found online at Statorec. Alice Stephens’ interview with him is up at The Washington Independent Review of Books. Another excerpt may be found in the Winter 2021 issue of Exacting Clam.


“Detour is to philosophical prose what the appendix is to the gut—not a vestigial outcropping, as once believed, but a storehouse of beneficial fodder. So it is fitting that essayist Tyler C. Gore, our nation’s preeminent literary digresser, has devoted the better part of his sharp-eyed and often hilarious first collection to a study of the appendix, provocatively called ‘Appendix,’ that is a series of intellectual forays centered only loosely upon that underappreciated vermiform organ…. ‘Appendix’ is actually a very insightful (if offbeat) narrative of illness and recovery, but his surgery seems secondary to his musings on mortality, narcotics, and the geography of Brooklyn…. What lurks at the heart of ‘Appendix’—and the collection’s other eleven essays, a number of which have been honored as notable by The Best American Essays series—is Gore’s inimitable eye for the humor in life’s minor futilities. He is the Thoreau of not-so-quiet desperation, the Woody Allen of minor disappointments, a writer who anticipates epic tragedy in a broken door latch or a Christmas gift…. Yet he does have his transcendent moments: his devotion to both his beleaguered wife, a hospital administrator, and to his rescued street cat, Luna, reveal Gore to be a man as lovable as he is eccentric. More important, as a literary companion, he is immensely entertaining…. In ‘a universe that bends inexorably toward irony,’ My Life of Crime manages to capture that irony with refreshingly idiosyncratic wit and charm. Life may be serious, but Tyler C. Gore is exceedingly funny, and the combination is well worth a detour through his self-styled ‘criminal’ mind.”

—Jacob M. Appel, in Heavy Feather Review

“You know that friend, the one you talk to only once in a while, but when you do, you’re captivated by his stories and the way he tells them? … Before you know it, you’re taking in every word and wending your way along the paths and detours of his stories, jumping from instance to instance as though leaping over the sooty, sloppy puddles of melting snow on the sidewalks in his Brooklyn neighborhood. You’re laughing, he’s laughing, and you barely notice when things go sideways—when the pain, the worry, the grief that underscore even the funniest moments in life make you swallow the lump that has formed in the back of your throat and hold your breath until he makes you laugh again. This is what it’s like to read Tyler C. Gore’s My Life of Crime…. This wry collection is by turns witty and poignant.”

—Patricia Ann McNair, in The Washington Independent Review of Books

“I’d been reading Tyler C. Gore’s My Life of Crime, a series of autobiographical essays one of which, “Appendix”, is novella length, and I noticed an odd effect. While scanning the perfectly ordinary-looking lines of ink pressed into paper I found I was laughing. Laughing at a book. A modern book…. {[}It{]} delivers yuk yuks aplenty and much more, including the most spirited and moving defense of cat ownership I’ve ever read…. I loved this book. There is a magnificent sweep of detail here: Gore’s obsessions and irritability, his disinclination to do what he’s told even in his own best interest…. We get a feeling for the teeming city he calls home and the naked-and-afraid body horror of being contained in a monstrous institution in a powerless state. We get all this and we get Gore’s comic voice: wry, irascible, opinionated and pedantic, but shot through with love for his wife and his cat and, occasionally, a really nice pebble.”

John Patrick Higgins

“Tyler Gore writes with the gleeful, soulful wisdom of a fallen angel, and the cultural fluency of a twenty-first-century Charles Lamb. These essays—from the sketches to “Appendix,” the substantial cornerstone piece of the collection—all sing with a characteristic, giddy equibalance of dark hilarity and rueful wisdom.”

—Anne Pierson Wiese, author of Floating City

“Nimble, poignant and full of gratifying surprises, Gore’s essays illuminate the tragicomic depths of everyday life. With a flaneur’s eye for the telling detail and a politically astute sense of societal context, Gore braces us for the mundane challenges of being without sugarcoating the heartbreak or surrendering the wild hopes.”

—George Prochnik, author of I Dream With Open Eyes

“The irreverence and piercing social acuity that epitomize the writing of Tyler Gore are on full display in this fabulous career-spanning compendium. What particularly stuns is the ability of these agile sentences to transform a cold page into an intimate arena of intellect. I feel the author singing at my shoulder. It is a voice I would follow anywhere.”

—Ben Miller, author of River Bend Chronicle

“With formal daring and a deftly-employed narrative sleight-of-hand, My Life of Crime takes us on a wild ride that veers from the marvelously surreal to the uproariously funny, from the gleefully unhinged to the soberingly poignant, often within the space of a single paragraph. This stellar collection manages to pull off that rarest of literary feats: it reframes the very ways in which we take in the world around us.”

—E.G. Scott, author of The Rule of Three

“Tyler Gore gives voice to Generation X in this hilarious, deeply irreverent, and intensely moving collection of essays. Bring tissues, for moisture will be excreted while cackling uncontrollably to his not-so-youthful antics and iconoclastic world view, but also during those touching moments of gimlet-eyed insight on everything from the alienated desperation of the suburbs to the existential intricacies that can arise from the human appendix. With its mix of high-low culture, My Life of Crime is a triumph of entertainment as enlightenment.”

—Alice Stephens, author of Famous Adopted People

“As Laurence Sterne said of the writings of John Locke, so of Tyler Gore’s collected essays and entertainments will you experience the history of what passes through a man’s mind. In Gore’s, we encounter the mundane alongside the sweepingly epic, the disturbed coupled with the sublime, and the vulgar leading to the divine. It’s one thing to feel and think and know such things; it is monumental to communicate them with the deep empathetic bittersweetness that Gore conjures. He is an American Rabelais.”

—Y.S. Fing, columnist, The Washington Independent Review of Books

“Tyler Gore is mischievously funny, with a wicked sense of timing for the well-placed details that make entire narratives sing. In My Life of Crime, he infuses the mundane occurrences of everyday existence—jury duty, run-ins with neighbors, walks on the beach—with intrigue and profundity, and life’s profound moments with an affable relatability. Both are marks of an essayist at the top of his form.”

—Sarah Stodola, author of The Last Resort

“Disturbing, addictive, full of intriguing non-sequiturs, Gore’s piercingly funny essays recall David Sedaris or David Foster Wallace, but more visceral, less genteel.”

— David Winner, author of Enemy Combatant

“Insightful, mischievous, and hilarious, with an underlying poignancy and wisdom.”

—Patricia Lynne Duffy, author of Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens