December 15, 2008

The Closest I'll Get to Chick Lit


After the supremely intellectual and verging-on-pornographic intensity of Tropic of Cancer I figured I needed a bit of a respite.  And unfortunately, as a former English major - which pretty much inevitably guarantees that a normal chick-lit-loving girl will be morphed into a literary snob who can't possibly stomach the thought of reading poorly written tales about some twenty-something named Tiffany who works in fashion and lives in New York and is searching desperately for Mr. Right - my options for literary relief tend to be slightly limited.  

So, when Mama got The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum out of the library, and started reading, and insisted "I know the books I read aren't good enough for you you snobby little monster but just read the first sentence I think you'll like it."  And lo and behold, I did!  Though she is playing it down quite well, Mama is very pleased that she found a book that we both enjoy, since this happens rather infrequently (see The Gathering for the epitome of our differing literary opinions).  

I always know I'm really enjoying a book when I start reading during TV commercials.  And indeed, yesterday, I barely even glanced at the TV as Dad scowled in his leather recliner and watched the Cowboys embarrass the Giants.  

What I liked about this book, and what kept it from crossing over into that dreaded chick-lit category, is that Buxbaum keeps everything extremely realistic.  The relationships and events were all believable.  The characters had their flaws, which is always a very good thing.  The only thing I found unrealistic was some of the dialogue, in which the characters do not really use contractions as much as they would in real life.  

In short:  Emily Haxby breaks up with her boyfriend of two years because she's afraid he will propose.  She can't exactly explain why, except that she somehow doesn't feel ready for him.  A Yale law school grad, Emily has been working at a major Manhattan law firm for the past 5 years.  She is not really a fan.  Her beloved Grandpa Jack is ill.  She can't communicate with her distant politician father.  She is still coping with the loss of her mother, which occurred nearly 15 years ago.     

This isn't a book of mind-blowing literary proportions.  It didn't leave me prostrate on the floor praising the literary devices and the beautiful diction.  But it was an extremely sweet book.  It was realistic.  It had some very sweet turns of phrase.  I was on the verge of tears by the end.  I couldn't put it down.  And more than anything, it was one of those books that helps you to see things a bit more clearly - to realize how you do or don't want your own life to be.  To recognize mistakes that you might be making.  And if so, to correct them.  

And that, in my opinion, is not too shabby.  

5 comments:

jenx67 said...

i just realized reading this blog post that i am complete and utter literary snob. even if the master and margarita made me a little cuckoo, i must claim it as a fave, among a host of others. how phony of me. ???? i feel guilty indulging in tiffany/fashion/fiction. when i feel this yearning for something soap opera-ish, i turn to willa cather - my antonia. very 20/20, dateline, 48 hours. she and her lover get shot up by her man.

So did you enjoy being part of Chuck's project? I really wanted to hate Johnny Truant, his next blog pick. But, I can't help it. I like him, too.

the sassy kathy said...

oh i read my antonia for AP english back in my high school days - i should give it another try. along with faulkner. *shudder* i found him simultaneously terrifying and so impressive i couldn't even handle it. never read "the master and margarita" - i'll have to put it on my list and give it a try!

and yes i LOVED being a part of chuck's project! it was such a wonderful opportunity. and everyone has left such sweet comments. very exciting :) thanks!

Countrybelle said...

oh i'm totally a book snob too (re: i just finished war and peace!) and i also loved the master and margarita! it's one of the most surprising and magical books i've ever read. totally second the recommendation.

btw, kathy, this is a wonderful book review. have you tried doing this for money?

the sassy kathy said...

how have i never even HEARD of the master and margarita!?!?!? does an english major get you NOWHERE these days? sheesh. i am so behind. i need to get on that. asap.

and thank you countrybelle! i would LOVE to do book reviews on a more professional level... i have some feelers out. but if anyone has suggestions i'd love to hear!

the sassy kathy said...

how have i never even HEARD of the master and margarita!?!?!? does an english major get you NOWHERE these days? sheesh. i am so behind. i need to get on that. asap.

and thank you countrybelle! i would LOVE to do book reviews on a more professional level... i have some feelers out. but if anyone has suggestions i'd love to hear!