About a third of the way through this book I can sum up the whole thing in just about one sentence: Sebastian Dangerfield is an asshole.
The whole story revolves around Sebastian Dangerfield, an American living in Ireland to go to school, which he does very little of since he spends most of his time getting horrendously drunk, neglecting his family, abusing his wife, spending money he doesn't have, begging for booze money, and sleeping with/chasing after other women. While I normally do not think this is a bad subject for a book, filled with potential to create good drama, the whole thing is supposed to be a comedy. I may be in the minority here, but I don't think being a huge jerk and a horrible person is funny. Being a huge funny jerk and being a funny horrible person is funny, and that definitely does exist (being an extreme smart ass, or something), but I really haven't found much of this book comical at all, besides the section where he unknowingly rides a train with his junk out. This probably paints me as uptight or a prude or something, but whatever. I don't get it. Not that I get why I laugh at most things (ask me about the giant orange head joke sometime), but this I just don't get.
Beyond the misadventures in comic material, the book has been a pretty interesting read thus far. Long portions of unclaimed dialogue broken up by even longer sections of highly truncated prose. Half sentences strung together, painting an unfinished picture that becomes filled in with the minds eye, creating a picture far more vivid than anything that can exist in the real world. The story is meh, but I really really love these prose sections. The english language used in the best way possible: highly unsensitive or poetic, clobbering you over the head in such a way that the incredible scope of what is being describes has absolutely no way of leaving your head.
The novel also refuses to shy away from the sexual antics of the main character, but doesn't load the story down. One particularly enjoyable section recounts a one night stand with an incredibly awkward and shy woman in Baltimore: "She told me she had only one request to make- that she didn't want me to know her name because she might regret everything. and not to spend so much money on her a stranger, that they would probably never see each other again, anyway. She was warm. I pressed my nose through her straight black hair and my lips behind her ear, whispering I liked her and please stay with me. She put her face in front of mine and said distinctly, if that means you want to go to bed with me or if you want me to come to bed with you, I'll be blunt, I will. Whole hearted. Blunt. And I'm not trying to be whorish. But I suppose I am. Am I? Or what. What do you expect of a girl lie me? And I don't suppose after that remark you would believe I don't have any idea of how to go to bed with a man. But where and how and when? There's a whole lot it, isn't there?" Just enough text to understand the whole scene, the entire drive of a character, and not a word more. I love it.