Thursday, July 03, 2008

Thumbs down for 'How to Be Single'

I was excited when one of the book mavens at the paper came over with a copy of Liz Tuccillo's new novel, "How to Be Single." Tuccillo co-authored the self-help phenomenon "He's Just Not That Into You," and even though I thought she was the book's weak link, and even though I'm not a fan of chick lit, I was still interested. The protagonist is the same age I am and I thought it would be fun to read a single point of view from the same place I'm in.

Here's the first paragraph from the book cover:

"On a brisk October morning in New York, Julie Jensen, a single thirty-eight-year-old book publicist, is on her way to work when she gets a hysterical phone call from her friend Georgia. Reeling from her husband's announcement that he is leaving her for a samba teacher, Georgia convinces a reluctant Julie to organize a fun girls' night out with all their single friends to remind her why it is so much fun not to be tied down."

I shoulda known when I saw "samba teacher."

You guys, I only made it to page 17 -- and that was out of sheer stubbornness. It's obvious Tuccillo got to write this because of the success of "Not Into You." The start of the novel reads like a first draft before the editors get to it. Like she was just writing to get the story idea out of her head and then she'd go back and punch up the prose, but never got around to it. It's a lazy effort. Sophomoric sentences. Non-compelling, cookie-cutter characters. In short: NO.

I think Tuccillo may be felled by what snags lots of other authors: Singlehood is hard to get your arms around. There are so many angles to take and most of them fail. But I've got to hand it to the author -- the main character travels to find out how women around the world are dealing with being single. That means Tuccillo had to travel around the world for "research." I wonder if I could use that trick on my bosses?


Anonymous said...

Why are you trying to review a book you only read 17 pages of?

Anonymous said...

You already know how to be single, because you are.

Anonymous said...

Why does the Observer have unattractive people blogging on dating? Shouldn't the writers be people who actually get dates?

Anonymous said...

I read the book while I had some downtime last week. While I wouldn't give it a stellar review, I wouldn't automatically dismiss it, it was a light and interesting read. Julie's character had a great adventure, tried to put a "face" on single and kinda failed in the end, but at least her character did something different.
Plus, it's chick lit, which is always good vacation/beach reading.