Monday, July 21, 2008

Book Report: Incompetence, by Rob Grant

I enjoyed Grant's take on the Western world's weight obsession (FAT), so I picked this up. It's set in a near-future Europe where you don't have to be capable to be employed. Harry Salt, a detective/spy, investigates the death of his mentor at the hands of a mass-murderer who seems to be one step ahead of him no matter what he does. The comedy comes from his constant encounters with people and institutions who are totally incapable: airline clerks unable to sell tickets, a "sexually inappropriate" hotel greeter, a clerk in an elaborate train station built in the middle of nowhere where no train ever stops, a police captain with serious anger management issues, and a host of others.

Most of the scenes are hilarious as small annoyances grow into massive roadblocks with a series of complications that Seinfeld and David would admire. However, they occur with such frequency that they began to wear on me. They never became predictable, but as they began to unfold, I found myself thinking, "here's another one." and eventually wished the book would just get on with the plot. The plot itself is too simple to justify a book of this length, and serves primarily as a device to introduce Harry's various encounters. That made the reading experience less rewarding than I had hoped.

Ulysses Rating: 3 - I enjoyed this, but I didn't love it.

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