A callow young man grows older, but not up, in this coming-of-age story.
Eddie Howell is a rebel. At a young age, he smokes and drinks, listens to heavy metal, races motorcycles with his hellion little brother–closing the resulting gashes with staples and duct tape–and decides that â€œthere has to be a better path than the straight and narrowâ€¦.I had the balls and the brains to find the shortcut.” He rebels against Duke University because â€œ[t]he system expects and rewards imitation. Original thought is neither valued nor encouraged.” Besides, there’s â€œpartying four nights a week and anonymous sex with an endless supply of beautiful girls.” Eddie eventually drops out and marries â€œthe sexiest girl I had ever met in my life.” But when his rock-’n’-roll bride turns corporate drone, he discovers that marriage is â€œa lifelong prison” and ditches the ball and chain. Then Hollywood starts oppressing him with a lavishly paid television-writing gig and another gorgeous fiancÃ©e, the rich daughter of a powerful producer. Trapped in a situation that â€œcould steal my soulâ€¦leave me so shallow and empty,” he has â€œnothing more to look forward to except maybe retirement or my next lay or my next vacation to Cabo San Lucas.” Should Eddie churn out prime-time crap or write the Great American Novel? Marry a trophy wife or content himself with herds of L.A. hotties? Stay in Hollywood, or head out on his motorcycle? Nazif paints a funny, mordant, well-observed portrait of his feckless hero. Eddie is yearning, ambitious, selfish, swaggering and insecure, continually in a panic at the subtle yet strangulating binds that even the giddiest relationships place on him. But it’s impossible to sympathize with his dilemmas, since his options are all wonderful–he could even keep his cushy TV job and write a novel. (Cabo San Lucas doesn’t sound bad, either.) Easily getting anything–and damn near everything–he wants, he seems less rebellious than just perversely difficult to please.
A promising writer coddles an unsympathetic protagonist.