Recap: Michael Gregoretti hates most aspects of his life. He hates his job. He hates his love life, or lack thereof. He hates AIDS, which is spreading like wildfire within Manhattan’s gay community in the 1980s — of which Michael is a part. He also hates that he’s about to turn 30. But such is life, and Michael is determined to figure it all out and make the most of it.
Things start to turn around when he is promoted to a copywriter at the advertising agency where he works. Then he meets an attractive man, Craig, and goes on a couple dates with him. But as it turns out, he becomes more of a booty call to Craig than a boyfriend. And the projects he’s working on at the ad agency, along with the people he’s working under, are nothing to brag about. He wants to get another job, but his portfolio isn’t good enough, and his bosses won’t give him better projects to manage. Luckily, he has two close friends, Irene and Anthony, to commiserate with and lean on, something crucial for this fool among fools.
Analysis: A Fool Among Fools is a black comedy about a lost twenty-something guy. It’s a story filled with cringeworthy anecdotes and enough career rollercoaster downturns to make your head spin. But as sometimes happens, this black comedy was more black than it was a comedy. With a title like A Fool Among Fools, it’s evident that even the author thinks Michael Gregoretti is a mess, but I found his mess of a life to be more pathetic than it was funny. I felt sad for him through most of the book, and I didn’t feel as though the anecdotes were humorous enough to make up for his sadness.
Not to mention, the random mention of AIDS in my recap section of this post is as random as it seems to appear in the book. It is discussed somewhat frequently in the novel, as many of Michael’s friends and acquaintances are dealing with the awful disease, and it is always discussed very seriously. But the mention of it comes and goes, too fleeting to make enough of an impact on Michael’s life to get him involved with AIDS research, awareness, or support groups, etc. It feels like the author is trying to make a point about the disease, but never quite reaches it.
Without giving away any spoilers, the borderline deus ex machina ending feels like an easy throwaway. But the friendships between Michael and Anthony and Michael and Irene were what kept me going, and coincidentally, that’s the same thing that keeps Michael going as well.
MVP: Anthony. Anthony is easily my favorite part of the novel. He’s a good friend to Michael and gives him the swift kick in the you-know-what that Michael so often needs.