English first novel in the “men are beasts, here’s proof” category. Despite their so-so looks, rampant insecurities, and semidepraved living habits, London roommates Harry and Gerrard expect to find the perfect woman any day now and are too picky to keep a merely human girlfriend for long. When their promiscuous buddy Farley commits suicide over a woman named Alice, the two guess that she must be extraordinary and determine to pursue her. Harry, the “half-ironic, Jack-the-lad” narrator, chronicles their quest, making his case along the way that it’s the normal man’s nature to be selfish, soulless, and usually drunk. Alice turns out to be the epitome of their sexual fantasies, so Harry and Gerrard begin vying for her affections in a competition that escalates into war. Harry drugs his friend and whisks Alice away to a holiday in Venice; Gerrard embarks on a campaign of libel and slander to undo his rival. In the end, Harry’s fate is determined neither by Gerrard’s dirty tricks nor his own but by the inevitable consequence of remaining true to type.
Occasionally off-putting but mostly laugh-out-loud funny.