I think I would be pretty mad if a monster who is deservedly a pariah bought the rights to my award winning play. Yasmina Reza had the unfortunate circumstances of having her play The God of Carnage bought up by Roman Polanski and turned into a movie.
Anyway, this is an earlier novel that starts with an almost 50 sadsack of a writer fresh off a divorce and nursing a recent glaucoma diagnosis that could leave him blind in one of his eyes. He is thinking of that and the worsening receptions of his three novels (moderate acclaim, sharp criticism, ignorance). He happens upon an old flame who seems to harbor some of her old feelings and despite their mutual age, he feels the worse for it.
They talk for a while, leave to eat dinner, and that’s pretty much the whole novel. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a playwright makes the action of this short novel relatively simple.
This novel reminds me of a few different things. For one, Adele Waldman’s novel Nathanael P comes to mind, as does a number of Nicholson Baker novels.
It got me thinking about how we come across other people and how they come across to us. Especially when you notice your age for the first time in a long time, maybe when an activity you used to be involved with grows harder or an old pair of clothes no longer fit or you see someone from your past, you think in terms so clearly of being in the act of growing older. I can’t say that I always work in these terms. I am younger than the main character here, but I still sometimes think about myself in a kind of kinetic aging way. But I OFTEN see others this way. It’s like I look at their life and can’t help imagine them at a farther extreme version of the life they’re living, like a kind of what happens if this continues for the next 15 years kind of thing.
The novel itself is just ok.