Don't Mind Me, I'm Just Having a Bad Life

A Memoir

Non-Fiction - Memoir
475 Pages
Reviewed on 08/04/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

In the introduction to Don't Mind Me, I'm Just Having a Bad Life: A Memoir, Lewis Kempfer tells readers what his book is not: “It’s not a typical memoir that focuses on one event, nor is it an autobiography, chiefly because I’m not a celebrity. But I believe my story must be told and that someone out there desperately needs to hear the message of hope that’s woven through it.” It turns out this is an unusual memoir indeed, the story of one man’s journey through the lows of life, from childhood trauma, failed relationships, crystal-meth, sex and drug abuse to an uplifting hope in an encounter with God. From the first chapter, the author offers an introspective look at himself and tells readers that one of the things that caused him to indulge in negative and traumatic experiences was the lack of self-love.

This is a story of hope. It begins at the lowest moment in the author’s life and takes readers through his terrible experiences. Here is how he describes that moment between life and death: “No, I didn’t want to die—at least not this way. Naked, except for the leather restraints on my wrists and ankles, I found myself sliding around in my own bodily fluids on the filthy floor of an infamous gay drug motel in east Hollywood.” The writing is fluid and filled with humor, the descriptions allow for clear and powerful images, and the author does an incredible job of exploring the dark despair that stole into his soul many times. Don't Mind Me, I'm Just Having a Bad Life: A Memoir is a conversion story, the tale of someone who reached rock bottom in his moral life and whom God drew out from the pit. Lewis Kempfer’s writing is filled with wisdom and insight, a story that is shared with unusual honesty and a voice that is irresistible. There is a bit of every one of us in this memoir and that’s what makes it so appealing and enjoyable.

Lit Amri

“It’s not a typical memoir that focuses on one event, nor is it an autobiography, chiefly because I’m not a celebrity. But I believe my story must be told and that someone out there desperately needs to hear the message of hope that’s woven through it.” Lewis Kempfer is a talented stage actor and his singing voice almost makes him the next up-and-coming Nashville star. Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Having a Bad Life is, however, much more than his story of professional career hit-and-miss. Readers will get to know the man through his traumatic childhood, troubled teen years, sex and S&M, the search for a soulmate, AIDS, addiction to meth, and Kempfer’s complicated relationship with God that often surfaces with the feelings of rejection and questioning, including the need for guidance and forgiveness.

Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Having a Bad Life is uncompromisingly forthright. Chronologically narrated from his childhood years in the 70s with interludes of the present 2000s, the reading is at times surprisingly amusing-caution: never trust a psychic-but predominantly it's a gritty look at an individual’s dark days which are akin to a rollercoaster ride that’s constantly on the edge of being derailed. When it did derail, one would think the ride to destruction would stop, but no. My way of life is worlds apart from Kempfer's but, as a human being, it’s easy to relate to the feelings of disappointment and failure when your life doesn’t turn out the way you want it to be. However, hope is never lost according to Kempfer. "Most days, it’s damn hard, but I try to forgive myself a little more every day and acknowledge those little successes that make all the difference." Simply put, an eye-opening memoir. Keep walking away from the meth, Lewis.

Vincent Dublado

A revealing memoir that is frank, traumatic, and downright fierce, Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Having a Bad Life chronicles the path that Lewis Kempfer traversed on his way to self-realization and salvation. For readers who were weaned on life stories loaded with sugar, spice, and everything nice, this book is a challenging departure that will poke your sensitivities, as Mr. Kempfer’s experiences from childhood to adulthood are riddled with trauma and regretful choices. Make it past the Oedipal conflict he had with his father and you will be introduced to the world of organized religion, heartbreaking relationships, drug, and sex addiction. As if these are not enough to make you conclude that this memoir is transgressive, Mr. Kempfer gives us a tour of the Hollywood life--a dog-eat-dog world where watching your back is imperative and the lure of temptation can test any resolve.

The evocative accounts are layered with brutal honesty, so much so that we find ourselves putting on his shoes. Lewis Kempfer exhausts all the means to write from what he best remembers. He grapples with self-identity in his inability to understand his sexuality while growing up, and why even the most infinitesimal faux pas he committed was repulsive to his father. As an adult, a career in Hollywood fueled his obsessive need to fit in, so he threw himself into the wrong choices and ultimately found refuge in the grace of God and not in the tenets of organized religion. Mr. Kempfer’s writing helps him to find an antidote, realizing that acceptance from others is not an issue of self, but society. Now that he has managed to re-establish a better life, a book about his realities could offer hope to someone out there that all is not yet lost.

K.C. Finn

Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Having a Bad Life is a work of non-fiction in the style of a memoir and was penned by author Lewis Kempfer. Written for adults due to explicit content in the form of sex, violence, and drug abuse situations, this incredible life story speaks to the core of anyone who has ever suffered from self-esteem issues and a deep dislike of themselves. This self-hatred brings Lewis to the brink of self-destruction as addictions of all kinds take over, and the memoir details the childhood that brought him to that point, as well as the change of beliefs which helped him finally overcome his mistakes.

This is an inspiring turnaround story for anyone who has ever struggled with addiction and low self-esteem, or indeed those who want to learn first hand how they might help others believe in themselves and overcome. Author Lewis Kempfer writes with incredible lightness and humor, considering the grim nature of some of the subject matter, which draws readers in and allows them to feel safe during the author’s darkest moments. The organization of the memoir is excellent, taking us on a journey from different states of mind that makes it painfully easy to see where Lewis’s supposed ‘luck’ comes from, and how he ended up where he did. Whether you’re a Christian believer or not, the nature of faith is discussed with great delicacy and consideration, making Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Having a Bad Life an incredible and motivational work at its heart.

Romuald Dzemo

Don't Mind Me, I'm Just Having a Bad Life: A Memoir by Lewis Kempfer is a candid and compassionate story of one man’s journey through a rough life of sin into finding God. Starting from his traumatic and difficult childhood, the author takes readers on a journey through debauchery and drugs. He winds up in Hollywood where he works his dream job at Walt Disney Company, but feeling empty and terribly lonely, he seeks fulfillment in the wrong places, indulging in sex and crystal-meth. Then in a moment of despair, he musters up the courage to seek help in the one place he’s never ever considered—he calls on God. Hence begins a story of saving grace, filled with power and inspiration.

Lewis Kempfer has written a story that reminded me of St Augustine of Hippo, a memoir filled with glimpses of the life that most readers have experienced. The voice is powerful and honest, and I particularly enjoyed the attention the author gives to the details of his life. As one reads the memoir, one begins to understand the character of temptation and the excuses the protagonist gives for pursuing a lifestyle that is slowly destroying him from the inside are unsurprising. The sense of helplessness in being hooked to his addictions is clearly depicted in this story. Don't Mind Me, I'm Just Having a Bad Life: A Memoir is deftly written and while it entertains readers, it also compels them to think about their relationship with God and the power of his redeeming love.