Lev Grossman’s ‘Warp’ opens with a brief preface describing his life as a young man in the 1990’s. He writes about the loneliness he felt and the personal issues many need to deal with in the wake of being thrust from the bubble of college. I relate to Grossman’s preface, but I cannot say the same for ‘Warp’.
‘Warp’ is a story of a 23 year old slacker, Hollis, who has graduated from Harvard found himself sitting around Boston doing nothing in particular. He drifts from scene to scene with no particular agenda, commentary, or thought. Instead, Hollis recalls dialogue and bits of stories from science fiction. He interacts with privileged friends who have done more to advance their careers while reverting to the maturity level of college freshmen. They drink, speak exclusively in references and insults, and make snide comments about the women they encounter. Hollis meanders with these friends while offering little to no input to the situation. The only thing Hollis seems to be torn about is his previous relationship. Yet so little context is given to the situation that I assume they broke up out of exasperated boredom. He visits her at a fancy corporate office where all they seem to talk about is how Hollis could get a job but won’t.
During his strolls and bus rides in Boston Hollis manages to find his own manic pixie dream girl named Xanthe. A trope of the depressed man story, a MPDG spices up a story by creating an interesting paramour for the aloof protagonist. Xanthe could be removed from the book and nothing would change, but at least Hollis got some action. The closest thing to a conflict in ‘Warp’ is when Hollis and his friend Peters plot to break into a suburban mansion for the weekend while the residents are away. There doesn’t seem to be much of a motivation for the act; it is merely something to do and any risk of punishment isn’t enough to prevent the caper. I would say more, but there’s not much more to say. They break into a house and hangout for a while. It was the most interesting part, but the lack of conflict or resolution in the matter left the whole experience shallow.
The most redeeming factor of this book is Hollis’s lack of dialogue means that he doesn’t whine very much. He isn’t concerned with phonies or societal expectations or really anything. However, if Grossman was trying to show Hollis as numb to the world around him, he probably should have included an event that would be worth reacting to. Hollis is an Ivy League educated young adult who has been clearly been giving numerous opportunities to do many things. His social circle is wealthy and well connected, and it seems like the only thing holding him back is a malaise so dull it does’t even register as depression. I do not feel for Hollis.
Numeric Review: 2/5