Stupid, stupid, stupid. I was either bored or annoyed by so much of this book. Imo, the 1st person is a selfish and unreliable person (by his own accord) and his life reflects this.
Wharton writes well enough but the crazy way he lives his life is reflected in the pointless story-telling. I’ll bet this guy tells great stories at parties and someone told him he should write a book. Perhaps they were right – Wharton won awards for several books and maybe this one, too.
My personal problem is that I knew guys like him – old farts who felt like they had missed out on the “hippie revolution” and joined up at age 50. They gave me the creeps. “Scum” is a perfect name for someone like him.
The basic story is that of an American ex-pat painting in Paris in about the 1970s (?). He lives with his wife (a kindergarten teacher) and their five children in a “nest,” a really dilapidated unit of housing. He makes friends and sells paintings on the streets of Paris. True to most novels, the friends and adventures grow in bizarreness as the book progresses.
That said, there were a few very funny if rather fantastical parts (like running from the cops), some touching parts (like Monsieur Constanzo lying down by his dead wife), some interesting parts (like when does a painting stop changing) and lots of fairly well written parts. The little ditties were an interesting addition.