Don't be put off by the first 150 pages! At that point, I thought I was in for an endless wallow in slime along the lines of 1980s Martin Amis (which I enjoyed at the time...).
However, 'Karoo' turns out to be far more than an ironic expose of Hollywood hacks and their shallow lives.
Yes, it's concerned with shallowness (and obsessed with the divide between 'public and 'private' selves that once animated the work of Chekhov).
But 'Karoo' goes beyone the entertainment of similarly disgusted satires (e.g. 'The Player') and becomes a howl of mid-life pain, more excrutiating than an entire series of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm', and full of frustrated self-knowledge.
The novel's final third is suffused with a yearning for beauty and truth that put me in mind of 'Seize the Day', a brilliant novella by Saul Bellow, whose name bears a curious resemblance to that of the anti-hero in Tesich's book (and whose protagonist also ultimately finds grace in an uncomfortable encounter with a deathly body).
'Karoo' is written in the flat, fluent syle favoured by screenwriters. Easy to read, then -- but the bleak, tortured, self-circling truths faced by its anti-hero are hard to face, and I can imagine repelled readers throwing it to the floor in disgust.
Angry, male novels like 'Karoo' are bound to divide readers. But I have found this book unforgettable, particularly for the moving final quarter, where it widens out, rising above self-disgust and social satire to become a strange, emotional meditation upon creativity and the soul.
I would like to thank FC Boyce for introducing me to a novel that I would have missed if it weren't for is evangelising!