Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Debut Review: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.: A NovelAuthor: Adelle Waldman
Publication Date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Bold, touching, and funny—a debut novel by a brilliant young woman about the coming-of-age of a brilliant young literary man

“He was not the kind of guy who disappeared after sleeping with a woman—and certainly not after the condom broke. On the contrary: Nathaniel Piven was a product of a postfeminist 1980s childhood and politically correct, 1990s college education. He had learned all about male privilege. Moreover, he was in possession of a functional and frankly rather clamorous conscience.” – From The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

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; Elisa, his gorgeous ex-girlfriend, now friend; and Hannah, “almost universally regarded as nice and smart, or smart and nice,” who is lively fun and holds her own in conversation with his friends.

In this 21st-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 judgment, 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.
“People expect girl from good middle-class families to be smart – but what they mean by smart for a girl is to have nice handwriting and a neat locker and to do her homework on time. They don’t expect ideas or much in the way of real thought.”

On the contrary: Nathaniel Piven was a product of a postfeminist, 1980s childhood and politically correct, 1990s college education. He had learned all about male privilege. Moreover he was in possession of a functional and frankly rather clamorous conscience.

Over time, Nate began to grow frustrated by her lack of literary sensibility, the sheer practicality of her intelligence, as well as a certain rectitude or squareness on her part – in other words, by her essential Kristen-ness, which he had once revered.

Perhaps the salient issue was not why but simply that he didn’t want to be in a relationship. His work fulfilled him, and his friends provided all the conversation and companionship he needed.

This book has a simple premise – to take readers on a journey through the dating life of Nathaniel Piven. I want to say that Nate P. is your typical guy, except that once you’re in his head you know that while he has the tendencies of the modern day male, he still has a king and caring nature buried down below. Nate is a Harvard grad with strong views about any topic his friends are able to throw his way. He hasn’t had a lot of luck on the dating scene, although he has had his fair share of women over the years. He has tried dating seriously, but only ends up finding something wrong with them that eventually turns him off to the entire idea of a relationship. Nate is the not the type of guy that I could ever see myself dating, but he does have a certain charm about him at times. However, I would be lying if I said that I thought he was a nice guy all the time because I hated him at times too; I am on the side of the She-Woman Man Haters Club after all!

The language and detail that Adelle Waldman incorporates in this book is from the mouth of a highly educated man – Nathaniel P. Nate’s voice is surprisingly pretentious and witty, and I was so pleased with Adelle’s writing style. I was in a few fiction writing classes in college and the hardest thing for me to tackle was writing from the male perspective, being female myself. Waldman gives a snarky, superficial voice to Nate at times, while at others she makes him seem like the passionate literary whom only wants to be heard and listened to. His personality was arrogant and cocky, but I found it so promising that Waldman could give so much character to a man she envisioned in her head. I swear I have met Nathaniel P. before, maybe even multiple times!

Adelle Waldman has my vote! Nathaniel P., not so much, but I think that was the point. He is a little too self-absorbed for my tastes, and I liked his friendship with Aurit and hearing about his various girlfriends more than I liked listening to him justify his reasons for breaking up with them. Aurit was a character that I did enjoy very much. She put her two cents in, as we say in the South, quite frequently and it was often concerning Nate’s love life, or his lack thereof. Aurit was a little bossy and demanding, but what good girlfriend isn’t? She was the only one that it seemed was able to talk some sense into Nate every so often.

Really, you should get lost in Nathaniel’s world, then you might realize how the male mind really works!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Henry Holt & Co. in exchange for my honest review***

1 comment:

  1. I really want to read this one and I don't usually read adult books. Im glad you enjoyed it !