This is a flawed, imperfect book and yet I give it five stars. It earns the stars partly because its own imperfections are consistent with the celebration of humanly flaws throughout the novel, and partly because its digressions, occasionally odd word choice, flailing subplots, and third-act inconsistencies don't detract from the strong, original voice and full-bodied characters. It's also remarkably hilarious. And "true".
Fundamentally, what most impacted me about this book was how powerfully it convinced me to not read so much, goddammit! Especially for a book whose characters are consumed with a passion for the written word. The haze in which the main character Grady Tripp goes about his daily life, and the description of his student James' great first novel ('It was a fiction produced by someone who knew only fictions'), both contribute to dethroning the majesty of literature. The movie is a masterful adaptation, and it adds some moments of brilliance that are absent from the novel, but it doesn't come close to the conviction, more convincingly expressed here than in anything else I've read, that life is meant to be *lived*. And, like I said before, it's absolutely hysterical at times.