Yes, I was hasty. I won't say I was under the illusion that it would reveal itself to be a book to rival modern classics such as Fight Club, but I was extremely curious to finally read a novel voiced by Hank Moody. After all, writing is writing regardless of whether the author's fictitious or not. Having said this, the party responsible for this near 200-page lukewarm anthem of reckless young adulthood in New York's transition into the '90s is Jonathan Grotenstein under the premise that it was Hank Moody, magically out of the screen and into the flesh.
Maybe I haven't read too many books recently, or perhaps my previous foraging into English classics like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has left me with a taste for richer journeys than fast-paced modern storytelling. I used "lukewarm" to describe this faux novel turned fanboy material mostly due to the outrageous hype and worship God Hates Us All received in the Californication series. Maybe this is the greatest charm of the novelty item: the debunking of such a critically praised work in a sarcastic "This is it?" tone. Clearly the hype is satirical, because anything that sells is instantly denominated "brilliant" in Hollywood. As Hank himself would say in the show, "Why can't anything be just good, or OK?"
That's exactly what God Hates Us All turns out to be in the real world: an OK pastime rather than a brilliant book, centered around a young man with no true goal or aim who ends up in and out of the world of minor drug dealing. Although the narration does build a romantic, slightly pessimistic vision of the world through personal accounts, there are very few epiphanies or moments of enlightenment. Rather, the character monotonously jumps from one situation to the next, skipping details that would have enriched the circumstances and story. I suspect time constraints forced this novel out early due to contractual obligations with Showtime or some such bureaucratic routine. The result is a mildly amusing tale of transition into adulthood with the occasional sex, drugs, and some mention of rock and roll.
It's not just the lack of attention to detail that bothered me; it seems like the narrating voice stays the same through good times and bad times, something I found lazy. There aren't any memorable moments of drama, save for a family crisis. There are a few anecdotes of bold situational awkwardness that I enjoyed.
It's not a bad book, but it doesn't deserve any special mention. Given that this is a licensed item, I understand the limitations that might have surrounded its inception. It would have been better if Californication writer Tom Kapinos himself had had a direct influence in the writing of this novel so that it could better match the greatness of the show's tome.
I can't give this more than a 2 out of 5, simply because it's a licensed item and one that didn't pay attention to much detail other than borrowing a few lines from Hank Moody's repertoire of dialogue. Sorry to be ripping you a new asshole, "Hank," but this is teenage literature at best. Anyone else feel the same? Comment on this piece by a major, and I do mean major American author, motherfucker!