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I decided to read this novel based on Kaufman's previous work in screenplays. And the writing was imaginative to the point of being addictive. I actually tried to quit reading about mid-way through but had to come back. But the plot is all over the place (past, future, memory, real life - it was hard to tell what was what.) And the overall story was - in the end - pretty pointless. There were a few aha moments of deep thought scattered about, but they were quickly overrun with the next chapter of nonsense. I wonder if the good reviews are because it was essentially a book about a film critic - with lots of jabs and inside jokes that critics would find funny. Reading this book was like taking a long vacation to somewhere exotic that was a letdown - I am sort of glad I read it and it was interesting overall, but I have no need to go back.
I have very much enjoyed the movies made from Kaufman’s screenplays and possibly have all the DVDs in my collection. Watching a couple hours of downright cleverness is downright fun, in my book. However, in his book, there are 700 pages of cleverness, unrelenting cleverness, unfiltered cleverness like stream of consciousness on steroids. It’s a little hard to take. Somebody else probably made this point better, but Kaufman is a very clever guy, but not clever enough to suppress his cleverness.
It winds around the reader, pulling forward despite whatever the reader might prefer to do. It goes on, and on, and on. There's no question that parts are brilliant...but are all the parts needed to make a whole, since the reader is regularly dropped into holes- the sewer- with the main character. For those in the Left, the Trunk/Trump Disney pages are wonderful, and timely. But...
It may take a long, long time. I doubt whether that would bother Charlie Kaufmann, who is endlessly discursive in an often adorable way. The book is full of sharp mini sketches and references that prove how tuned in to the undefinable times we are living in now, and is good for picking up at the end of a long day, when some immersion in quirkiness is called for, combined with that last cup of cocoa.
A professional critic noted that when the author was faced with creating a movie he had limits of time and budget. Here he is let loose with no boundaries. At first this is entertaining. Later its a time consuming bore.