Max may be the protagonist of Hating Olivia; he is far from a hero. Since the story is narrated in his voice and we see everything from his point of view, it is very easy for the reader to take what he says as gospel. On the other hand, first person narrators are not always all that reliable; their accounts need to be examined critically. Max is pretentious and self indulgent. He reads Celine and masturbates to Playboy. He plays at being an artist. He feels smugly superior to most everyone he comes across. He is satisfied living in a roach-infested boarding house. He is willing to live off Olivia after they become involved. He is willing to indulge her in the excesses he blames her for. If things go wrong in their relationship, it would seem that he was as much to blame as she. Moreover, to see Max as an unreliable narrator makes the book that much more complex and interesting. Otherwise, it just reads as self-serving whining.
Hating Olivia is a novel about youth, passion and irresponsibility. Conventional social values are ridiculed — work, education, family, none of these things is important. Yet in the end, youth and passion do not last. Eventually the idyllically named Olivia Aphrodite wants things, clothes, jewelry, even a dog; she begins to act more and more crazily. Sex becomes an act of aggression. The demands of everyday living make some kind of employment necessary. Hair gets gray or disappears. There comes a point when even a little fat dumpy guy begins to look good. The passions that seemed so important in youth no longer seem so significant. Even understanding them no longer seems necessary. As an older Max asks in an epilogue: "What was all that insanity about?" "Long ago," he concludes, "I gave up searching for answers."
If your literary taste runs to writers like Henry Miller and Charles Bukowski, Celine and Anais Nin, Hating Olivia is a novel you'll like. If your taste is more conventional, this is a book you'd best avoid.