More to Life Than Elaine's:
Rather, his problem is that he is too easily led astray by temptation, whether in the form of a gorgeous blonde co-worker, with whom he has "dangerous sex in stolen moments," or a charming dot-com entrepreneur whose six-figure salary offer persuades Mr. Goodwillie to join an Internet start-up. The message of "Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time" is that abandoning your career to follow your dream is pretty tough when, like Mr. Goodwillie, you're so darn successful.
There were moments, reading this book, when I began to wish that he hadn't given up the day job. In the course of 356 closely typed pages, I learned that "creative people have no place in the real world"; that New York is a "grand experiment in finding oneself"; that people viewed from the top of tall buildings "look like ants scurrying every which way"; that "Chinatown bustles with the manic energy of immigrants"; that being 13 is "a curious, painful age"; that "fashion isn't about clothes"; that the author and his father "always run out of things to say after ten or fifteen minutes"; and that Montclair, N.J., is "leafy."
The real problem that Mr. Goodwillie faces as a writer, though, isn't his over-reliance on cliché so much as his fatal lack of irony. There are no jokes in "Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time," no sentences that have more than one meaning. On the contrary, Mr. Goodwillie is in deadly earnest 100% of the time.