So I put it down after getting halfway through and am giving it away. I don’t think there was one likeable character. It became exhausting and in a way a kind of incessant nattering monotone. I read this repeatedly in Amazon reviews; ‘All the characters were unlikeable’ and ‘I couldn’t relate to the major figures in this book’.
And so after all this, finally, I realize that it is the present fashion. It’s not that the writer has no ability (I think) to construct interesting people-on-the-page, it is that unlikeable characters are presently stylish.
This book takes place in a place called New Carthage, Missouri so women are either Steel Magnolias chewing gum or swoshy clods with Keds and multiple chins. But then the people in New York are all awful as well. This gets monotonous, as in monotone, as in one single note played over and over, a Guantanamo torture.
So these are the present rules for stylish contemporary literary novels in case you are thinking of writing one, which I would sternly discourage unless you have the capacity to sustain a mean-spirited irony for about 300 pages:
—construct shallow, haughty main characters.
—-have them make stupid, nay, witless ‘choices’
—lots of random sex graphically described; afterwards participants more or less forget about each other and might even at some point say, Now what was your name again? Are we married?
—make some off-hand reference to the evilness of George Bush
And there you about have it.