:: Article

Running on Empty

By Gregory Frye.


Out of Touch, Brandon Tietz, Otherworld Publications 2010

Out of Touch by Brandon Tietz is about Aidin, a wealthy socialite who at twenty-four has spent his entire life in a world of superficiality. Aidin’s adult life consists of nightly sojourns to posh clubs where money is never a problem. Thousands of dollars on bottle service, drugs and women-as-objects. That’s about it. Aidin knows there is an emptiness here. His whole life has been rife with it. This is how he is supposed to live. This is what people have come to expect. What else is there?

After a night of hard partying, he wakes up and cannot feel a thing. No physical sensation whatsoever. At first he mistakes this for some bad cocaine or a weird hangover, but it’s more serious than that. He quickly has to learn how to adapt to the world in a new way, which means forsaking the life of pleasure that he’s led up until now.

With the help of his therapist Dr. Paradies, Aidin’s life takes on a third dimension. He develops a personality. He meets a woman. He participates in mysterious exchanges. Builds a birdhouse. All this through a to-do list Paradies gives him as part of his therapy. 366 items. Skip nothing. Build a Lego city, sketch a self-portrait, create a Myspace page, learn how to shoot a gun.

The story winds its way into strange yet inevitable places. Everything happening for a reason. As Aidin learns how to live with his condition, new peculiarities come into the picture. The rising action will leave readers riveted to the page. The smooth, slick style. Clever yet full of truths. The non-linear storyline is also a lot of fun as the writer jumps around from before and after ‘the Big Numb’, also to diary entries from Aidin’s childhood. All of it ties together.

This book is about finding substance and meaning in a world where so many people skip that part of life. Aidin’s story questions the meaning of soul, where it is, where it’s not – and it left me wondering how I can improve my own life, continue to cultivate new interests in the effort to avoid my own Big Numb.

Debut novels are seldom this good. After reading this, I can tell that Tietz takes the craft seriously. I can tell that this is one of those books that everyone should read. I can tell he’ll be around for a long while.


Gregory Frye is a struggling novelist who quit his newspaper job and moved to Athens, Greece, in 2008.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, February 14th, 2011.