“‘It’s okay,’ I reply. ‘It’s thinly veiled fiction and I’m not using any names, like when I write about you, rather than calling you Gord, I just refer to you as “the agent.” Frazier is just “the manager,” and Beth is “the wife” until she’s “the ex-wife.” I call myself “the funny man.” I’m the villain.’”
This is a hint at a more interesting, more difficult book. Of course, when you unpack it, it empties out its promise: the roman a clef that includes the passage that proves it’s a roman a clef isn’t what it says it is. There’s no referent. But this is a joke that comes near the end, that I kind-of half wish was taken more seriously: that Warner disappeared more completely behind his character, that the funny man were smarter and funnier.