Friday, January 24, 2014

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

Book 5 of my 2014 Reading Challenge

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

Summary (via the book jacket)

Nate Piven is a rising star in Brooklyn's literary scene.  After several lean and striving years, he has his pick of both magazine assignments and women: Juliet, the hotshot business reporter; Elisha, his gorgeous ex-girlfriend, now friend; and Hannah, "almost universally regarded as nice and smart, or smart and nice" and who holds her own in conversation with his friends.  But when one relationship grows more serious, Nate is forced to consider what it is he really wants.
In this twenty-first-century literary world, wit and conversation are not at all dead.  Is romance?  Novelist Adelle Waldman plunges into the psyche of a modern man - who thinks of himself as beyond superficial judgement, yet constantly struggles with his own status anxiety; who is drawn to women, yet has a habit of letting them down.  With tough-minded intelligence and wry good humor The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is an absorbing tale of one young man's search for happiness - and an inside look at how he really thinks about women, sex, and love. 

My Opinion

I can handle unlikable characters and I can handle messy not-really-the-end endings, but there still has to be something that makes the book readable.  Unfortunately, this book didn't hold my interest and I can't put my finger on why exactly. 
 Maybe it's because Nate wasn't only unlikable, he was also pretentious and boring.  Maybe it's because Nate was the only character focused on; the other characters had no depth and were only there to give Nate something to react to/play off of, depriving us of the chance to see why they would choose to date/be friends with Nate at all.  Maybe it's no reflection of the author at all and I'm merely reacting to the knowledge that there are plenty of real-life Nates that treat plenty of real-life Hannahs poorly and it makes me sad.  
Whatever the reason, this book just wasn't for me and I'm ready to move on.

Quote from the Book

"Contrary to what these women seemed to think, he was not indifferent to their unhappiness.  And yet he seemed, in spite of himself, to provoke it."

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