Set in Los Angeles, this novel tells the story of a sibling rivalry, a get-rich-quick scheme, and 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.
“I defy anyone to come up with an equation to explain how this book’s first impression as a ridiculously clever, funny crime story can gradually disclose a metanovel built from far more encyclopedic scratch only to reveal upon its conclusion a central, overriding thought so heartfelt literally it trembles your lower lip. This is one stunning piece of work.” —Dennis Cooper, author of The Marbled Swarm
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HOW GUY FORGET ENDED UP IN A COMA
Guy Forget — careening across Larkin Heights in a stolen Mini Cooper — suffused with bloodlust and baring a grin full of teeth, failed to hear the polyphonic belling of his cell phone. This was a mistake, for two reasons.
Had he heard his phone, and answered the call, Guy would have learned three things: that his wealthy, boorish father had died of a heart attack; that his wealthy, boorish father's will had provided Guy with exactly enough cash, after taxes, to fund the prototype for Pandemonium; and that his wealthy, boorish father had included in his will a personal message for Guy to the effect that, despite their differences, and their less-than-communicative relationship over the years, Guy's wealthy, boorish father did, in his own unspectacular way, love his second son.
Had he heard and answered his phone, Guy would also have been distracted sufficiently from his murderous thoughts to lay off the accelerator, and would therefore have slowed down sufficiently to avoid the near-fatal collision awaiting him around the fourth curve of the bendy road down which he was driving too fast.
Because he did not hear or answer his phone, Guy Forget was in a coma from which he was not expected to recover. His surviving relatives — his mother Laura, tense, brittle-framed, already shaken by the recent death of her husband, who, even though she hated him, represented a kind of vital force that helped make sense of her life; and his older brother Marcus, balding, self-absorbed professor of theoretical physics at M.I.T., whose adherence to the code of abstraction respected by all professors of theoretical physics everywhere extended to forgetting, from time to time, his wife Constance's existence — were divided on the question of whether to pull Guy's plug and end what remained of his corporeal viability, or, to be plain, of himself.
Laura was a seriously lapsed Roman Catholic who felt a distinct unease at ending Guy's life "without at least asking him," as she put it to Marcus over coffee at the hospital commissary in Los Angeles.
-Mom, he's in a coma. That's the whole sort of coma issue, replied Marcus, patiently. He was used to treating everyone, especially his mother, as if they were children, and needed to have even the most basic concepts explained simply.
-People come out of comas.
-Not people with Guy's level of brain activity. Or inactivity, more precisely. He's a vegetable. There's nothing about Guy that makes him human anymore.
-Mrs. Sanderson said that she read about this one ... -Mrs. Sanderson is not a doctor. People magazine is not, I'm pretty sure, a peer-reviewed medical journal.
-Those doctors don't get everything right. What about AIDS?
-What about AIDS?
-Well, they were wrong. It doesn't even exist.
-It's like you live in a hole. You didn't hear about this?
-Mom, that's so utterly bizarre I'm going to refrain from comment.
-Saying that doesn't make it any less true.
-I suppose. In crazy world. Marcus reached across the table and wrapped his mother's tiny hands in his own, almost invisibly pale palms. -Whatever there was of Guy, his essence, has dispersed back into the universe. If it's any comfort, recent research has led some in the scientific community to believe that quantum consciousness exists independent of physical being — at very basic levels, on the Planck scale. In that sense — -Marcus, interrupted Laura, I don't want to pull the plug. I just don't.
Marcus shrugged. -Okay. He looked at his watch. -I've still got time to catch the red-eye back to Boston. You staying, or ...
-God, no.CHAPTER 2
INTRODUCTION OF THE VILLAIN SVEN TRANSVOORT, UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, SEVERAL WEEKS AFTER THE KOREAN CHECK- CASHING FIASCO
My name is Sven Transvoort. Obviously, that's not my real name, but it's the one everyone who knows me thinks is my real name. Reason: it's actually my real name. See? I lied! I do that a lot. I am an inherently trustworthy person. I am, in a word, villainous, and I don't have to explain myself to you, or anyone, because for all you know I may be one of Hegel's world-historical individuals who doesn't have to play by the rules. Like Napoleon. I have certain things in common with Napoleon. I'm not French, this much is true. Not a military strategist, or an army man of any sort. In fact, guns make me nervous. If guns didn't make me nervous, there would not be much to this story, in fact. Because guns make me nervous, I am forced instead to rely on my cunning. On my devious nature. On my villainy. I'm pretty sure Napoleon, from what I've read, possessed a certain devious streak. And there are, to this day, countries who consider him villainous.
Consider this my confession. I brought Guy down, you see, I pricked his pretty bubble. I don't feel guilty — but I do feel that if I don't say something I won't get the credit I deserve, if I don't speak up. The squeaky wheel gets the credit, or something, right? Am I right?
Guy didn't know me as Sven Transvoort, of course. He knew me by that name, but not as Sven Transvoort the guy who'd sell his own sister down the river for a nickel, whatever that means. He knew me as someone he trusted, which is to say he didn't know me at all. What kind of a fool would trust me? I wear a T-shirt with the name of a punk rock band called Reasonable Sleep five or six days out of the week. I have wild, curly dark hair, thick-lensed glasses, and a gut you can hide things in. Seriously. You can tuck three grapefruits in my belly fat, no problem.
On the other hand, I might be dangerously thin, a consequence of my ongoing battle with prescription painkillers that has no effect whatsoever on my work, on the quality of my work. I could be a computer engineer student at Caltech, also an artist, and while we're at it a gallery owner. It's just a little gallery, really just one room in Chinatown, but my loft space downtown is pretty sumptuous. Certainly more so than you'd expect from a student/artist/small-time gallery owner. Or maybe I'm none of these things. Maybe I'm a private detective. Or a cop. Or a jewel thief. Or a product of Heidegger's "question of being," which both he and I believe to be the central question of our time, and may explain everything about what happened to Guy Forget. Or nothing.
I am, whoever I am, a dangerous character. I am the last person you would suspect. But I am the first person you should avoid. I hated Guy Forget with intensity, with white heat and black magic. I hated him from the moment I laid eyes on him. I would have done anything to bring him down, and I did.
The fulfillment of a life's ambition is rarely so sweet as the anticipation of its fulfillment. I think that's a quote from the writer Fiat Lux, I don't know if you remember, the one who disappeared off the face of the earth a few years ago. Hardly anyone remembers her anymore.
What did Fiat Lux know? I used to wonder. I don't wonder anymore.CHAPTER 3
GUY AND HIS BEST FRIEND BILLY DRINKING IN A BAR LATE AT NIGHT, THREE DAYS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO
There's no dirt in this bar. It's very clean, said Guy.
-You say that like it's a bad thing, said his best friend of five years, Billy.
-It kind of is. You don't go to bars for hygiene.
-Well, no, obviously. But this is Los Angeles. Everything's clean.
-That's not true. There's a sheen of grit over the whole city, it gets into your pores even. I'll bet right now you have a body-dirt ratio of about nineteen percent.
-I took a shower before we came out.
-That's why it's so low. I didn't take a shower. My ratio's probably more like fifty-fifty.
-Sure, blame the messenger.
Lucy, the bar maid, brought two pink drinks to the table, set them down, picking up the empties and the sodden napkins.
-Hey, Lucy, said Billy. -I got a new one. It's good.
Lucy rolled her eyes.
-Okay. Here goes. Hey, baby, your legs are so long I'd have to take a cab to kiss you.
-Sorry about the mess, said Guy, nodding toward the tangle of melted drink straws in the center of the table.
-Pretty, said Lucy.
-It's art! said Billy. -It's straw art. Bring us more straws so that we can express our feelings with straws.
-Can we pay for our drinks with straw art? asked Guy.
-Someday it might be valuable.
-Since when do you guys pay for drinks? said Lucy, walking away.
-She has a point, said Billy.
-You want to try reading minds on some girls?
-Not tonight. It's too much effort.
-How is that too much effort? Anything that involves girls is worthwhile. That's a direct quote from your brain.
-I never said that.
-I said from your brain. Maybe I can read your mind.
-There aren't even any girls.
-What bar are you in?
-Your standards are appallingly low.
Lucy came back over to the table with a handful of drink straws.
-You can have these, but no more melting them in the candle. It stinks up the whole place.
-Guy was just telling me it's too clean in here. Weren't you just telling me that, Guy?
-I was just telling Billy that.
-If Gregory comes in I'll get yelled at and you guys will get thrown out.
-I'll handle Gregory, said Billy. -He won't throw us out. He's got a crush on me.
-You wish, said Guy.
-Just ... no melting, said Lucy.
She turned back to the bar.
-Without melting, there's really no point, said Billy, sadly.
-There's twisting and bending and fitting the end of one into the end of another, or the end of one into the other end of itself, creating a triangle, which can then be linked with other triangles.
Guy drained his drink. The ice cubes clattered in his glass as he set it down.
-All right. I'll do mind reading. But only for one more drink. And you have to go get the girl.
Billy got up out of the banquette immediately, headed to a nearby table occupied by five drinking girls, where he pulled up a chair and engaged in a brief but intense conversation with an attractive young woman in a black dress. Her hair was dyed bright blond, and she made slits of her eyes as she listened to Billy.
Billy got up, shaking hands with the attractive woman before heading back to the banquette.
-She's good, he said, sliding into his seat.
-What's her name?
-Forgot to ask. Here she comes ...CHAPTER 4
MARCUS, GUY'S BROTHER, CONTEMPLATES WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN, STANDING AT THE WINDOW OF HIS OFFICE IN CAMBRIDGE, THE SAME DAY AS THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO
Marcus sat at his desk in his office. From the window, he had a clear view of the River Charles, which legend tells used to freeze over regularly come winter, but Marcus had lived here nearly ten years and never seen it happen.
He stood up and went to the window. His breath condensed on the windowpane. I was the shadow of the waxwing slain, he thought.
Marcus sighed, and moved away. He avoided at all costs the blackboard on the far side of the office, avoided even looking in that direction, because the blackboard was almost empty. An empty blackboard is worse than a blackboard full of dead ends to a professor of quantum chromodynamics. An empty blackboard reflects an empty mind. It's like, what if someone came up and said, "Non-Abelian gauge theory is just a chimera, and I can prove it using the very same gauge invariant QCD Lagrangian in front of which you genuflect daily." How would I feel then? How would anyone feel? Empty.
What if I'd just given him the money when he asked? thought Marcus. I have the money. I have plenty of money.
Never wanted to be the sane one, the responsible one. How did that happen? All through childhood I was odd boy out. I was morbidly shy, no good at sports, mocked for reading the encyclopedia and the dictionary. Never once got in trouble. Never once. When Grandma got sick and Mom had to spend her time taking care of her, I took over. Cooked the meals, did the dishes, did the laundry, everything. Fourteen years old and I'm running the place. I should have been out setting fires or blowing up mailboxes, but to be honest, the one time I went with my friend Charles Holiday down to Mad River and we put firecrackers in frogs, it made me sick to my stomach. It still makes me sick to my stomach.
If I gave Guy the money he'd blow it, and I'd never see it again, but so what? I don't need it. I tell myself I might need it someday but the odds of that are easily calculable as nearly nil. Even if we decide to have children, my salary here plus frugal living plus careful investment equals never have to worry about money. And I have tenure, which is ridiculous, to give me tenure. I'm an indifferent teacher and a middling scholar. I will never achieve the kind of success worth dreaming about. Just to stay on top in a general way of developments in quantum chromodynamics is a fulltime job, and everyone by now has a specialty that's more or less a specialization of a specialization of a specialty, and I don't have the kind of decisive temperament that allows me to put all my eggs in, for instance, asymptotic freedom, or quark confinement, because for whatever reason — and this is a sad thing for a quantum chromodynamicist to admit — my brain is too earthbound, too attached to the evidence of its senses for me to really engage with the flightier aspects of pure theory. I don't mean to say I don't understand/appreciate
but I believe these things only halfheartedly, the way I believe in love, for instance, or the theory of evolution. Say you come up with the Theory of Everything, say you're that guy, the one who solves for all time the riddle to end all riddles. Would that make you happy? It would, I suspect, make me immensely, unfixably sad.
Used to be when I felt this way I would think about Constance, my wife, my so-called beloved. To whose wisdom I should always defer, because she is so much smarter than I am. At the end of the day, or really at any point during the day, or even at night, she tells me not to give Guy the money, Guy doesn't get the money. But she didn't tell me not to give Guy the money. I didn't even ask her. I've stopped asking her anything important. When did that happen?
The phone on Marcus's desk rang. He didn't seem to notice for several moments, then suddenly sprang forward as if the phone were a kind of alarm.
-Hello? Wait ... slow down, Mom. You're not making any sense. What's wrong? Dad? What? Where did they take him?
Marcus checked his watch.
-I'll get the next plane to Dayton. Don't worry, I'm sure he'll be fine. I'm sure everything will be just fine.CHAPTER 5
WHAT GUY NEEDED, AND WHY: IN WHICH THE NOT ENTIRELY OMNISCIENT NARRATOR EXPLAINS THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO AND ITS INCITING INCIDENT, ABOUT TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE ACTUAL FIASCO. FOR THOSE INTERESTED, GUY IS SITTING ON THE COUCH IN HIS APARTMENT, WHICH THE READER WILL NEVER SEE AGAIN AND SO WE WILL NOT BOTHER TO DESCRIBE IT.
What Guy needed, above all, was the same thing everybody needs, all the time. He needed money. Not just knocking-around money, mind. He needed a substantial sum — fifty thousand dollars — and quickly, which is never an easy thing to come by, especially when your only really well-developed skill is talking down to people. That's why Guy needed Billy, who had a complementary skill of talking up at people.
Through a combination of happenstance and blind luck, which by the way are not the same thing, Guy had stumbled across a potentially useful technological invention, which to Guy meant lucrative, which by the way may or may not be the same thing, and he had tried, without success, to pitch the idea of this idea to a group of dead-eyed venture capitalists in Menlo Park a few weeks earlier. What he needed, they told him, was a working prototype. And to construct such a prototype, according to the naïve kid genius at Caltech who'd first clued him into the thing's existence, would cost fifty thousand dollars. It was beyond Guy's comprehension that no one would front him the fifty grand, but his friends in Los Angeles had all effectively laughed in his face, not at the idea of Guy's prototype, but the idea that any of them might have fifty thousand, or even five thousand dollars to lend him. Which is when he turned, much as he was loathe to do so, for a variety of complicated reasons, to his brother Marcus, who had brutally rejected him much the same way he had brutally beaten up Guy when he caught him cheating at Monopoly when they were teenagers, as if everybody doesn't always cheat at Monopoly, otherwise the game just goes on and on and on.
As time went by, and Guy's needs grew both more pressing and less obviously satisfiable, he and Billy got desperate enough to hatch Plan Charlie, which had not been preceded by Plans Alpha or Bravo, and in addition had nothing whatsoever to do with trafficking in cocaine.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Failure"
Copyright © 2010 James Greer.
Excerpted by permission of Akashic Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. HOW GUY FORGET ENDED UP IN A COMA,
2. INTRODUCTION OF THE VILLAIN SVEN TRANSVOORT, UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, SEVERAL WEEKS AFTER THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
3. GUY AND HIS BEST FRIEND BILLY DRINKING IN A BAR LATE AT NIGHT, THREE DAYS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
4. MARCUS, GUY'S BROTHER, CONTEMPLATES WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN, STANDING AT THE WINDOW OF HIS OFFICE IN CAMBRIDGE, THE SAME DAY AS THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
5. WHAT GUY NEEDED, AND WHY: IN WHICH THE NOT ENTIRELY OMNISCIENT NARRATOR EXPLAINS THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO AND ITS INCITING INCIDENT, ABOUT TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE ACTUAL FIASCO. FOR THOSE INTERESTED, GUY IS SITTING ON THE COUCH IN HIS APARTMENT, WHICH THE READER WILL NEVER SEE AGAIN AND SO WE WILL NOT BOTHER TO DESCRIBE IT.,
6. SUBSENSORY ADVERTISING (ENABLED BY PANDEMONIUM'S REVOLUTIONARY TECHNOLOGY) — SLIDE 23 OF A 47-SLIDE POWERPOINT PRESENTATION ASSEMBLED BY GUY FOR THE BENEFIT OF POTENTIAL INVESTORS, A PRESENTATION, AS HAS BEEN NOTED, THAT FAILED MISERABLY IN THE ABSENCE OF A BETA-TESTED PROTOTYPE,
7. THE TIME GUY'S FATHER VISITED GUY IN LOS ANGELES AND TOOK HIM OUT TO DINNER AT THE PALM, ABOUT TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
8. PROMPTED BY HIS FATHER'S CONVERSATION, GUY HAS A MENTAL FLASHBACK TO HIS CHILDHOOD IN DAYTON, OHIO, WHILE SITTING IN THE RESTAURANT PRETENDING TO LISTEN,
9. GUY AND BILLY DISCUSS PANDEMONIUM, SITTING IN BILLY'S APARTMENT, FOUR DAYS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
10. GUY PREPARES TO MEET HIS BROTHER MARCUS TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
11. THE VILLAIN SVEN TRANSVOORT, STILL IN HIS UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, TALKS ABOUT GUY'S BACKGROUND, AND MAKES BROAD, MOSTLY NONSENSICAL GENERALIZATIONS ABOUT CULTURE,
12. THE NATURE OF BILLY'S DAY JOB REVEALED, AT BILLY'S APARTMENT, FOUR DAYS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
13. GUY PITCHES THE IDEA OF PANDEMONIUM TO MARCUS IN THE LOBBY OF THE CHATEAU MARMONT, TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
13A. MINUTES LATER, MARCUS GOES TO THE BATHROOM, JUST AT THE MOMENT HIS WIFE CONSTANCE, WHO ACCOMPANIED HIM TO LOS ANGELES FOR THE QUANTUM CHROMODYNAMICS CONFERENCE, WALKS INTO THE LOBBY OF THE CHATEAU MARMONT LOOKING FOR HER HUSBAND — AGAIN, ABOUT TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
14. THE NIGHT GUY MET VIOLET MCKNIGHT, FIVE MONTHS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
15. GUY AND BILLY DISCUSS PROCEDURE IN RE: PLAN CHARLIE SITTING IN THE PROBABLY STOLEN MINI COOPER IN THE PARKING LOT OF THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING PLACE MERE MINUTES BEFORE THE ACTUAL FIASCO,
16. SVEN TRANSVOORT AT THE SMOG CUTTER, THE SAME NIGHT GUY MET VIOLET, FIVE MONTHS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
17. THE TIME GUY AND BILLY GOT IN A FIGHT AND FELL DOWN A HILL, MERE MINUTES AFTER THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
18. "OH, MARCUS, WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM ANYWAY?" REMARKS THE NOT ENTIRELY OMNISCIENT NARRATOR AS MARCUS VISITS HIS RECENTLY DECEASED FATHER IN A HOSPITAL IN DAYTON, OHIO, VERY CLOSE TO THE ACTUAL TIME OF THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING DEBACLE,
19. GUY, DRIVING IN HIS STOLEN CAR AWAY FROM WHERE HE LEFT BILLY AT THE BOTTOM OF A HILL AFTER THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO, WRITES A SONG, AS YOU DO,
20. THE VILLAIN SVEN TRANSVOORT SLANDERS VIOLET MCKNIGHT IN AN ATTEMPT TO JUSTIFY HIS ACTIONS, SITTING IN AN UNDISCLOSED LOCATION SEVERAL WEEKS AFTER THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
21. THE ONLY TIME GUY VISITED VIOLET'S APARTMENT, OR, MORE PROPERLY PUT, THE ONLY TIME HE WAS ALLOWED TO DO SO, FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
22. BILLY DESCRIBES HIS FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH THE MOPED MARAUDERS, APPROXIMATELY TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
23. GUY AND VIOLET RESPLENDENT IN THE FULMINANT GLORY OF THEIR LOVE, LYING ON THE BED IN VIOLET'S APARTMENT THE ONE NIGHT SHE TOOK HIM TO HER APARTMENT, FIVE OR POSSIBLY SIX DAYS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
24. BILLY EXPLAINS TO GUY, SITTING IN THE BAR, THE ABSENCE OF GREGORY, WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO MEET THEM AT THE BAR, WHICH HE MANAGES, TO DISCUSS DRIVING THE GETAWAY CAR, THREE DAYS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
25. THE TRUTH ABOUT VIOLET, AS RELUCTANTLY DISCLOSED BY THE NOT ENTIRELY OMNISCIENT BUT VERY RELIABLE NARRATOR, STEPPING OUT OF THE FRAME OF THE STORY FOR AN INSTANT,
26. BILLY, STRANDED ON A HILL-SIDE BY GUY, HAS AN UNFORTUNATE ENCOUNTER, LESS THAN AN HOUR AFTER THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
27. WHAT VIOLET SAID TO CHARLIE, FOUR DAYS BEFORE THE CHECK-CASHING FIASCO, IN THE BACK ROOM OF THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING PLACE, AFTER HOURS,
28. DAY OF THE LOCUS. GUY AND BILLY SIT IDLING IN THEIR PROBABLY STOLEN CAR IN THE PARKING LOT OF THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING PLACE,
29. THE LAST TIME GUY'S MOM AND DAD ATE AT THE PINE CLUB, THE NIGHT BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO, ALBEIT A COUPLE OF THOUSAND MILES AWAY,
30. SQUIRREL VS. CAT: A DISCUSSION IN THE PROBABLY STOLEN CAR BETWEEN GUY AND BILLY IN THE PARKING LOT OF THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING PLACE, ONE HOUR BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
31. GUY AND VIOLET DO DRUGS ON VIOLET'S BED, THE ONE NIGHT GUY WAS ALLOWED IN VIOLET'S APARTMENT, FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
32. THE VILLAIN SVEN TRANSVOORT DESCRIBES HIS FIRST MEETING WITH GUY, SITTING COWARDLY IN HIS UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, SEVERAL WEEKS AFTER THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
33. GUY AND BILLY DISCUSS VIOLET BEHIND HER BACK, SITTING IN THE BAR TWO DAYS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
34. THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO, FINALLY, TOLD IN A STYLIZED MANNER THAT AT ONCE EVOKES AND MOCKS THE ABSURDITY OF THE SITUATION, WITHOUT STRAYING TOO FAR FROM WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED,
35. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT WAS JUST DUMB, IN THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH OF THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
36. A PRIVATE CONVERSATION BETWEEN GUY AND VIOLET, SITTING ON VIOLET'S BED THE ONE TIME HE WAS ALLOWED TO VISIT HER APARTMENT, FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
37. BILLY PITCHES PANDEMONIUM TO A NEW GROUP OF POTENTIAL INVESTORS, SEVERAL WEEKS AFTER THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
38. THE MIND READING TRICK EXPLAINED IN FULL, ALBEIT RELUCTANTLY, SITTING IN THE BAR THREE DAYS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
39. MARCUS RECONSIDERS HIS LIFE AND COMES TO A PROBABLY UNSURPRISING CONCLUSION, TWO DAYS AFTER VISITING GUY AT THE HOSPITAL, A FEW DAYS AFTER THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
40. UNORIGINAL OBSERVATION BY GUY FORGET ON THE FUTURE OF THE HUMAN RACE, INSERTED BY THE NOT ENTIRELY OMNISCIENT NARRATOR AT THIS POINT BECAUSE IT'S ABOUT TIME,
41. THE DAY GUY FORGET APOLOGIZED, WHICH IS ALSO THE DAY OF THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO, IN FACT NOT MORE THAN FIFTEEN MINUTES AFTERWARDS, ROUGHLY,
42. GUY TALKS TO VIOLET ABOUT FRIENDSHIP, LOVE, AND THE INTERCONNECTIVITY OF ALL THINGS, AND ENDS BY MAKING A POINT ABOUT THE IMPERMANENCE AND FRAILTY OF ALL HUMAN BONDS, SITTING ON HER BED THE ONE TIME HE WAS ALLOWED TO VISIT HER APARTMENT, FIVE DAYS BEFORE THEKOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
43. GUY TELLS BILLY THE STORY OF PANTHERZ, SITTING IN THE BAR WAITING FRUITLESSLY FOR THE ARRIVAL OF GREGORY TO DISCUSS HIS ROLE AS GETAWAY DRIVER, FOUR DAYS BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
44. GUY AND VIOLET AND BILLY AT A CHINATOWN ART GALLERY, ABOUT A MONTH BEFORE THE KOREAN CHECK-CASHING FIASCO,
45. SIMILIA SIMILIBUS CURANTUR,
46. GUY'S MOM COOKS AN IN-ORDINATE AMOUNT OF FOOD FOR NO ONE,
47. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE VILLAIN SVEN TRANSVOORT,
48. BILLY VISITS GUY IN THE HOSPITAL WITH HIS NEW GIRLFRIEND, JULIA,
49. GUY FORGET ON THE CEILING,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I don't have much to add to what Dennis Cooper recently said of Greer's stunning sophomore effort: James Greer, one of the nimblest and most multilayered American fiction writers, has, with his latest novel The Failure, pulled off a sublime and shivery-smooth literary hat-trick-cum-emotional-gotcha. I defy anyone to come up with an equation to explain how this book's first impression as a ridiculously clever, funny crime story can gradually disclose a metanovel built from far more encyclopedic scratch only to reveal upon its conclusion a central, overriding thought so heartfelt literally it trembles your lower lip. This is one stunning piece of work. Buy it. You won't regret it.