Monday, December 29, 2014

The Biology of Luck

Book 63 of my 2014 Reading Challenge

The Biology of Luck by Jacob Appel

Summary (via the book jacket)
Odd-job queen Sunshine Hart is about to go on somebody else's perfect date. At twenty-nine, the usually carefree Sunshine has realized that it is easier to start sleeping with a man than to stop. Her lovers include one of the last underground members of the Weathermen and the dilettante heir to a lawn chair magnate. Both men have staked their romantic future on her. Her only respite is her impending dinner with the non-threatening but unattractive tour guide Larry Bloom. But Larry, too, has a stake in her future. He has written a book about their impending dinner in which he fantasizes about Sunshine's life on the day he wins her heart.
The Biology of Luck juxtaposes moments from Larry's guided tour of New York City on the June day of his "dream date" with excerpts from the novel in which he imagines Sunshine's concurrent escapades. This highly imaginative love story creates a provocative, funny, and keenly observed pilgrimage through the underbelly of Gotham.

My Opinion

After discussing how much I enjoyed Phoning Home: Essays, a friend mentioned she had another book by the same author and I was very happy to borrow it from her. Unfortunately, I didn't like this book nearly as much. I'm not saying this was a horrible book but even an "okay" book is disappointing after enjoying a previous book by the author so much. 

I really liked the afterword so I'm going to chalk it up to me not completely understanding the ambitious storyline. The description made it sound like it was going to be more about Starshine than it actually turned out to be. Starshine was the kind of woman I don't like (using tears and manipulation to get her way) so that was fine by me - sometimes it seemed like she was in on the joke, sometimes not. I also couldn't decide if the Larry Bloom chapters were intentionally overwrought or not. 

It was a small attention to detail but I did like that the author's name changed on the pages from "Larry Bloom" to "Jacob M. Appel" throughout the chapters to further clarify if I was reading the book or the 'book within the book' at the time. 

Even though this book wasn't for me, I will definitely read the author again.

A Few Quotes from the Book
"Today, an otherwise balmy and thoroughly nondescript day in June, Larry Bloom will discover both love and fortune."

"She is Starshine. She is beautiful. She is happy."

"Although Times Square in a battleground, the international crossroads of those who appear on magazine covers and those who use those magazine covers for insulation, Larry is merely a disinterested spectator to the combat. He holds absolute no stake in the outcome. If there were any feature of the theater district to which Larry could relate, it would not be found among the gaudy placards or the flashing XXXs of the video rental shops, but a block away from Times Square on Sixth Avenue. It is the National Debt Clock. Ticking. Ticking. Ticking. But accomplishing nothing."

"He is a new Larry Bloom. He will make his own decisions, look after his own interests, set his own pace. He will not let other people's needs and goals interfere with his lift. Except people who matter: And nobody matters more than Starshine."

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