My rating: 3 of 5 stars
hmmm… not entirely sure what to think of this work.
i think it’s one of those works, like The Goldfinch, where the protagonist gets upstaged by a secondary character. you keep hoping the book will get back to That Other Guy.
in this book, the protagonist is a man with no discernible name. a man with an excess of aliases, so we’ll just call him, as he is at one point in the book, Outis. Outis wants very very much to write a book, and keeps getting hung up and doing other things instead, like falling in love and learning to lie really, really well.
his ladylove, Evelyn, is truly pretty much a sexy lamppost. throughout their long, torrid, and entirely uncommitted relationship, there’s not much to be learned about her except that she’s an actress and is otherwise disappointingly hollow, at least to the reader.
they both get totally upstaged by their friend Julian, who is just fundamentally way more interesting than either of them. Outis wants to write, but Julian does write, along with being more than slightly bonkers. a one-sided competition thus begins: Outis is in the race, but Julian is too busy writing to compete.
this book depends in part on metafictional angles. which story is the true story, are all stories true, are some just better lies than others? metafiction usually brings to mind a melted-cheese painting: sure, the critics may love it, but do you really want it on your wall? but i have to say, in this book, the metafictional stuff is adequately disciplined and doesn’t put a stake in the story’s heart(s).
still, except for one passage about what the hell have all these people been doing putting little glyphs on paper for centuries, i fear most of the book is pretty forgettable. not a bad read, but not much to stick with one, either.