I was not a fan of this one, but it has my absolute least favorite plot/trope as the main thread of its story: the pest that our protagonist can’t get away from. I hate stories that wouldn’t exist if one person just told the other something, and in this case it should have been “get as far away from me as humanly possible.”
Paul is a failed novelist who approaches our protagonist Claude, a banker for an investment firm that is run by an enigmatic CEO, and tells him that he wants to shadow him to write a book about the everyman. Claude quickly learns by Paul’s abhorrent behavior and worse accomplice that he’s actually just trying to rob the bank.
Cool. Bye forever.
But Paul has entranced Claude with the idea that his life could unfold like the story Paul has presented him with, a life less mundane than his, where he asks the beautiful waitress at his favorite cafe to go out with him, and so and enlists Paul to write his next steps like a narrative of his life.
Nope, nope, nope. Not buying it. Even if you wanted something like this, why would you go back to the person who almost lost you your job and whose associate held a knife to your throat?
The metafiction of paying a writer to be your own personal cyrano has a certain appeal, but Paul only helps Claude with seducing Ariadne, and botches it horribly. Murray seems to think more of his characters and less of the concept, which is unfortunate because I HATED Paul and actively did not want him to succeed at ANYTHING, and as Paul himself notes, Claude is essentially a non-entity. There’s a lot of ornamental wackiness, like Paul’s child being named Remington Steele or his plan to monetize stalking waitresses, but not enough to hang it on.