Friday, September 13, 2013

Review of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman

I went into reading this book feeling excited, because there has been some talk about this book. I saw it chosen as some online magazines "book group" pick, but have since forgotten which one it actually was, even though that is truly what prompted me to pick up this novel. That and comparisons between Waldman and Jane Austen. Well, I guess I'm here to say Ms.Waldman has a long way to go, although it wasn't a bad start, either.

Nathaniel is a writer, living in Brooklyn. He's been struggling for years, but works hard. His parents, Romanian Jewish immigrants, worked hard to give him an American life, and he pretty much seems to have realized that dream: he attended Harvard, pursued a writing career, and eventually, moved to New York City and sold his first book. Glowing in that recent success, Nate starts to wonder: why doesn't he have a girlfriend? What went wrong with the old girlfriends? We soon get a lot of insight into why things might not have worked out with his previous girlfriends, as well as the one he meets in the course of the book.

I will totally admit to having a preconceived notion of what this book was going to be like, and fully admit to being wrong.  I did not have any clue it was going to be a discourse on why no woman would never be good enough for Nate's friends. Yes, his friends. Because even though Nate is fairly attractive in his own right, who you hang out(in Brooklyn!)with is nearly of equal or possibly greater importance as far as how attractive you might be to the opposite sex.  Nate's friends might leave a bit to be desired, but with this novel, everyone is a sort of caricature of themselves, so the fact that we meet a very one dimensional Jason, who eventually does show a more sensitive side, is relatively unimportant. The truth is, for Nate, it is all how the current woman looks on his arm, and to his friends. With Nate, appearances, at least at the start of the novel, are everything.

I enjoyed reading this book, although at times, I felt frustrated. Waldman tries a little too much to "think like a man."  Nate does have some pretty bad habits in his thinking and his behavior, and you root for him, but wish that maybe, he could change just a little, and learn from his mistakes.

Definitely an interesting debut for Adelle Waldman.

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