California Book Award-winner Greer presents a hilarious and immaculately written story set in L.A., exploring the inevitability of failure. The Failure is a picaresque novel about two guys who conceive and badly execute a plan to rob a Korean check-cashing store in order to finance the prototype for an impossibly ridiculous Internet application.
The main character, Guy Forget, is a 20-something drifter with brains, good looks, and absolutely no ambition except to get rich without having to work. His best friend, Billy, is a professional dog walker who ties the dogs to the rear bumper of his run-down car and drives very slowly. Along the way we meet, among others, Guy's Midwestern parents; his theoretical-physicist brother; his girlfriend, Violet McKnight; and his secret nemesis, Sven Transvoort, who hates Guy with unusual passion for reasons that are not immediately clear.
While the story of The Failure is fairly straightforward, the manner of its telling is anything but; it begins at the end, and proceeds in similarly nonlinear fashion to a conclusion that will surprise either nobody or everybody, depending on who has been paying attention. Using elements of pop culture, tech jargon, and noirish satire, the book attempts to answer the question not enough people ask themselves on a regular basis: Am I a failure?
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The narrative changes from one character to another fairly quickly, so I had to pay attention at the beginning to figure out who was speaking, but it got easier as I got used to it. In the meantime, the dialogue, perspective and commentary of each character were so entertaining that paying attention was easy. The story develops in a circular fashion rather than a linear one, so people who are looking for a straightforward, easy-to-read ordinary book won't find it here. Those who want a well-written, clever, literary novel will enjoy it.
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