Thursday, June 2, 2016

Review: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The headline for my review is "Chick Lit in Drag."

I like the premise of this one, and I admire a good bit of the writing, but I was ultimately disappointed with it.

The idea behind it is that a woman writes about a man's perspective on the contemporary dating life. He lacks any clear ability to reflect on why or how he's attracted to women and, as a consequence, he hurts a lot of them.

The persistent question of the book is what makes Nathaniel tick? That makes the premise almost necessarily narcissistic, which might work if Nathaniel were as interesting as he thinks he is. Instead, even though he writes about various cultural insights and social problems, he ultimately finds himself pretty dry of ideas. He makes it clear he doesn't want to talk about his "relationships," but almost all the exchanges of consequence turn on just those questions.

In the end, then, the ventriloquism of the premise fails. Nathaniel's lips may be moving, but the perspective is finally that of the women to whom he can never fully explain himself,

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