The protagonist is never named. He is really just a mediocre, bland conglomeration of every under-achieving friend you've ever had. He might even be you. His life exists in a series of stops and starts; waffling from one dead-end, low-paying theatre job to the next, and from one good-for-nothing girlfriend to the next. He has no aspirations that we can ascertain. He really has no marketable skills or even a desire to do better, or make something of his life. He seems to be content just floating by, making it day to day on a wish and a prayer. And the generosity and good-nature of other people.
His life sucks. And it's mostly his fault. He never steps up and takes credible actions towards anything that could end well. He doesn't even realize that everything bad that happens is his fault. Because he is so lost inside his own melodrama and daydreams, he can't see when his friends need him the most. And by friends, I mean Helmsley. He is really the only friend unnamed has in the world.
But he is not a terrible person, not by typical definitions. He is just unconcerned. And this is where my problems with our protagonist begin. Now, I understand that this is not a typical novel where the protagonist undergoes a series of trails and comes out the other side a changed person. This protagonist doesn't really undergo anything. He has a series of reactions to some events that happen that he has sort of MADE happen, by being unconcerned. He doesn't really care what happens to the people around him, as long as they are still there to help him out when he needs them. Well, most people don't take too kindly to this attitude and it starts to catch up with unnamed.
I don't know, really. I find it both hard to identify with the protagonist and too easy to see myself in him. The parts of me that want to slap him are also the parts of me that could find myself sleeping on a park bench for also being too obstinate and underestimating my friends.
I think if I had read this book a few years ago, when I was floating aimlessly through life, I would have gotten SO MUCH more out of it. But now, it's just kind of droll. That's not to say that someone, somewhere, won't find this book to be an invaluable resource, or a pick-up when they are feeling down. You could always use this book as your sounding board for when you think "it could be worse." Yes. It could be much worse: you could be this guy.
And really, without those unnamed protagonists of the world fucking things up for themselves, where would WE be?