Book Review: Attachments

Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments is completely, utterly ridiculous. I loved it away.

Attachments also happens to be the first Rowell novel I genuinely, wholeheartedly love. I’ve read Fan Girl,  Eleanor & Park and Carry On.  After a pretty rocky start, I ended up liking Carry On well enough. On the other hand, I found both Eleanor & Park and Fan Girl completely underwhelming.

Attachments, though? I love, love love it!

I’ve seen many folks make the argument that the novel’s premise is basically creepy and unrealistic. And they’re completely right!

The plot centers around a guy (Lincoln) falling in love with a woman he’s never met (Beth) via snooping through her work emails to and from a friend. Of course this is creepy.  It’s slightly less creepy because monitoring emails is his job, but still. It’s creep-city.

Attachments

It’s also, honestly, exactly the sort of screwy, nonsensical plot that lives in the romantic comedies of the 90s and early 2000s. While I don’t seem like it, I  adore a good rom-com and one of my truest film related despairs is that there hasn’t been a truly wonderful romantic comedy in years (and, no Love Actually does not count, people.)  I also love a good screwball comedy – heck, if computers were a thing in the 30s, I could see this sort of ridiculousness going on in a Katherine Hepburn-Cary Grant movie. You cannot tell me that the plots of Bringing Up Baby or Holiday make any more sense than this book does. In Bringing Up Baby, Katherine Hepburn’s scatterbrained socialite randomly meets Cary Grant’s paleontologist on a golf course, convinces him to help her take a leopard named Baby to her home from Connecticut, becomes enamored with him,  tries to keep him from leaving said home in Connecticut to prevent his getting married and they eventually end up in jail. And in love. I have not even described half of the crazy of that beautiful film. You can’t tell me that this plot makes any more sense than Attachments. You can’t because it doesn’t. But Bringing Up Baby, as well as My Man Godfrey, Holiday, Woman of the Year, His Girl Friday and all those other wonderful, insane, screwy screwball comedies work because they lean into the crazy. Continue reading

Book Review: A Kiss From Mr. Fitzgerald

28965429I recently read Natasha Lester’s A Kiss for Mr. Fitzgerald and I thought it was a pretty is fun, frothy ride. Yes, it so very, very soap opera-ish, but damn if it wasn’t a great soap opera.

I feel glad, I guess to have read A Kiss for Mr. Fitzgerald as it brought me some fun when I needed it. This was a easy, breezy read that I still found pretty engaging despite the genre not really being my speed.

This book is, I think, marketed as Historical Fiction, but in my opinion, it doesn’t really fit that into that genre nicely. When I think of historical fiction, I think of works where the setting completely informs everything about the world and story – the language, the plot, the characterization, the very fiber of the threats of the story. The book is seeped in its time and can’t truly be separated from it. It’s not possible to have that book without that time. Continue reading

Book Review: Sweetbitter

 

AKA: Navel-Gazing Ennui

After finishing Sweetbitter and thinking on it for a while, I think I understand why there’s such a sharp divide in how people feel about it. People seem to absolutely love or loathe this book.

I feel both feelings at the same time.

There’s a lot of beauty in Sweetbitter. Danler absolutely knows how to turn a phrase and how to set a scene. I found her words melodic. I’ve noticed often that people tend to complain about her descriptions  of food not being very “culinary.” They aren’t, but I’m not sure why people wanted them to be. As far as I can discern, this novel is not meant to evoke memories of strong culinary loves. It’s simply a roman à clef and a bildungsroman of sorts. This is a novel about a young woman moving to New York and working in a restaurant. That’s it.

The few descriptions of the culinary world and the food itself are heady and and crisp – they’re enough for what’s meant to be there. It think it’s fairly obvious that the focus of the novel isn’t particularly to ensnare you in endless descriptions of food and culinary adventuring, but to immerse you in the mind of this young woman who happens to be working at this restaurant. Much of the story could function the same if it were removed from its setting and placed elsewhere – like, for instance, an advertising agency or a private school.

Continue reading