For a book that claims to “chart the downfall” of its protagonist, I knew the ride I was potentially in for. However, the end of the book seems to kick the reader down a notch as well. The trainwreck rubbernecker in me really loved the first 3/4ths of this one: just-a-guy, content with his simple job, generic work friends, paint-by-most-numbers marriage and run-of-the-offbrand-mill child(ren), marking off each on his failure checklist. These tragedies are handled in such off kilter ways, laced with a stealthy wit, to keep the story fresh and engaging without the need to step it up to a fast pace. And though I didn’t NOT like the final quarter, where people are just plain disgusting (the reader just as lackadaisically unobservant as our “hero” to the clues displayed throughout), the final lap just felt like the author rubbing your face in the filth of life. But then again, the book’s a self-proclaimed downfall chart. Please watch your feet as you exit the ride.
Good Men by Arnon Grunberg, (List Price: 18.95, Open Letter, 9781948830652, May 2023)
Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia