I didn’t underline anything as I read, though much of it was thought-provoking, so now I am left flicking for a good bit, but here is something from the main characters middle-of-the-night ponderings (and there have been a lot of interviews with the author and articles online if anyone cares to look):
At this point, he is beyond self-pity, the shallow belief that what has happened to him is rare or undeserved. He has lost faith in his own innocence and uniqueness. This isn’t a midlife crisis; it’s more that he is finally, some thirty years too late, leaving adolescence behind.
He sees he is a man with an exaggerated longing for Romantic love who nevertheless understands little about kindness and even less about communication. He is someone afraid of openly striving for happiness who takes shelter in a stance of pre-emptive disappointment and cynicism.
So this is what it is to be a failure. The chief characteristic may be silence: the phone doesn’t ring, he isn’t asked out, nothing new happens. For most of his adult life he has conceived of failure in the form of a spectacular catastrophe, only to recognize, at last, that it has in fact crept up on him imperceptibly, through cowardly inaction.
Yet, surprisingly, it’s OK. One gets used to everything, even humiliation. The apparently unendurable has a habit of coming to seem, eventually, not so bad.