This is a truly remarkable book that I don’t think anybody will like. And that maybe includes me. I can’t recommend it at all, but you could very well get sucked into and be entirely compelled to read it (I did!) and think it’s brilliant and awful, like I did.
One of the best thins written about Ulysses is from the US judge that declared that it was unfair to consider it obscene, allowing its publication: that it’s boring storyline is what made it great in part.
And that’s what’s happening here. We are in the head of a middle manager, a white married man in the early 1970s. He’s awful, he’s normal, he’s typical, he’s boring, and he’s so clearly aware of not only all these things about him, but also about America. So the book is a droning, introspective, but also entirely impersonal set of thoughts and beliefs about his life as he slowly addresses all the main topics that define and shape his life. He’ll tell you about his affairs, his marriage, his kids, his job, his fears, his sexuality, his drinking…all that. And in the end, you will find a person almost without shape or presence, but entirely perfectly rendered in unnerving amounts of detail and honesty. And you won’t know if you are any better off for it. But it’s also an absolutely mindnumbingly perfect portrayal of bored middle class self-hating life. It’s about as opposite a book from Catch-22 I could imagine in so many way.