This novel is the purported memoir of one Ariel Zinsky, a sports addict with a rough childhood and a chip on his shoulder almost as outsized as he is (6’8”). Despite his social maladjustment, friends and women find him; because of his love of college athletics and no small amount of ambition, he finds success. Ariel’s oft-humorous story is about life as a well-educated (maybe over-educated) young person – lonesome, alienated, financially tenuous, awash in ritual masturbation – with a knack for selfish terribleness that is sometimes challenging to read. It is also, ultimately, a heartwarming account of family life after parents remarry and half- and step-so-and-sos appear, with the slow, difficult modifications to attitude and action that come with. Ariel, a man whose pain and unhappiness we come to know well, from whose social crimes we alternately can’t and don’t want to look away, learns some lessons in adulthood and love only belatedly and teaches us some others about ourselves. The snapshot we part with is, happily, a hopeful one, but who can say what will happen to Zinsky the Obscure?
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