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Diary of an Oxygen Thief Summary and Key Themes

“Diary of an Oxygen Thief” is a fictional novel published anonymously in 2006. It narrates the tale of an unnamed Irish advertising executive living in London, chronicling his tumultuous relationships and descent into alcoholism, and his pursuit of redemption.

Quick summary: An unnamed Irish advertising executive in London narrates his malicious psychological endeavors with women, his spiral into alcoholism, and a complicated relationship with a young photographer’s assistant. He seeks redemption by writing his life story, detailing the damages he caused and the humiliation he faced.

Full Summary

“Diary of an Oxygen Thief” is a book written by someone who doesn’t tell us their name. The book is all made up (I personally feel so), even though the writer tries to make us believe it might be true.

The book has three parts. 

  • The first part introduces us to the guy and shows his bad side. 
  • The second part talks about his drinking problem, how he stops, and then moves to Minnesota. 
  • The third part is all about his confusing relationship with Aisling.

The main character in the story is a guy from Ireland living in London, who works in advertising. He’s kind of a jerk. He enjoys messing with women’s feelings for fun. 

At the start of the book, he talks about how he enjoys hurting women emotionally. He even tells us about a woman he dated, named Penelope, who he thinks he loved. But he got bored, cheated on her, and drank a lot.

He drinks so much he starts playing mind games with different women just for fun. He invites them all to his 30th birthday party but gets super drunk and can’t remember anything. He also gets into some dumb fights at bars. 

At one point, he even hits a girl, which might be why he decides to join AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).

After joining AA, he gets his life together. 

He stops drinking, gets a good job, and avoids dating women. He moves to Minnesota, buys a house, but realizes he hates his job and the people there. On a work trip to New York, he meets a younger girl named Aisling. They sleep together, and he falls hard for her, but she doesn’t seem that into him. 

Still, he thinks she wants him to move to New York. He does, but she’s cold to him. He thinks she’s just using him for her art project, where she takes photos of sad things. The book ends with her embarrassing him at a bar while she takes photos of it. He’s writing this book to get back at her.

The story is told by this guy looking back at his past actions after being hurt by Aisling. But here’s the thing: we can’t really trust everything he says. 

He’s very self-centered, thinks the world revolves around him, and may exaggerate stuff. He’s obsessed with pop culture and sees himself as a main character in a movie.

At the end, the guy references a classic story called “Dante’s Divine Comedy”, where the main character goes from Hell to Heaven. But in this book, it’s the opposite; the guy goes from being okay to his life falling apart.

Diary of an Oxygen Thief Summary

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Key Themes

1. The Dangers of Narcissism and Lack of Self-Awareness

Throughout the book, the narrator’s self-centeredness is evident. 

He views women as objects to manipulate for his entertainment and fails to see them as human beings with their feelings and emotions. This lack of empathy stems from his narcissistic tendencies, believing that the world revolves around him and his needs. 

Such behavior not only harms those around him but also leads him to a life filled with regret and pain. 

When we are unaware of how our actions affect others and fail to reflect on our wrongdoings, we end up in a cycle of self-destructive behavior. 

The lesson here is the importance of self-awareness and empathy. 

To avoid falling into the trap of narcissism, one should always be introspective, question their actions and motives, and strive to understand and respect the feelings of others.

2. The Consequences of Escapism through Substance Abuse

The narrator’s descent into alcoholism serves as a cautionary tale about seeking escape from reality through substance abuse. 

When faced with difficulties or when bored with the monotony of life, turning to alcohol or drugs might seem like a quick fix. However, as depicted in the book, this only leads to a downward spiral of more problems. 

The narrator’s relationships deteriorate, his career stalls, and his physical health declines. 

While joining AA is a step in the right direction, the damage has already been done. The lesson underscores the importance of addressing our issues head-on and seeking healthy coping mechanisms. 

Instead of resorting to substances, one should consider therapy, counseling, or simply talking to loved ones about their problems.

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3. The Complexity of Relationships and the Need for Genuine Connection

On the surface, the narrator believes he is in love, but upon deeper introspection, it becomes clear that he is infatuated and obsessed. His past actions of manipulating women for sport come back to haunt him in the form of Aisling, who seems to be playing the same game he used to revel in. 

This toxic cycle is a stark reminder of the importance of seeking genuine, honest, and healthy relationships. 

One should not enter relationships with selfish motives or use them as a means to fill a void. Instead, relationships should be built on mutual respect, understanding, and genuine affection. 

The lesson also emphasizes the idea of karma; how you treat others will eventullly come back around to you in some form or another.

Final Thoughts

“Diary of an Oxygen Thief” offers a raw and unfiltered look into the psyche of a deeply flawed individual. The narrator’s narcissism and self-destructive behavior make for an engaging yet troubling read. 

The book dives deep into the themes of redemption, introspection, and the consequences of one’s actions.

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