A debut novel by a brilliant young woman about the coming-of-age of a brilliant young literary man.
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" and who holds her own in conversation with his friends. But when one relationship grows more serious, Nate is forced to consider what it is he really wants.
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.
©2013 Adelle Waldman (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"Nate is so convincingly drawn you’ll want to hug him, lecture him and shake some sense into him simultaneously. Waldman has deftly written a laugh-out-loud treatise on why he didn’t call." (Allison Amend, author of A Nearly Perfect Copy)
I was very excited to start this book as I had read a number of positive reviews, both on this site (and Amazon and Goodreads) and in magazines. In fact, even after reading it I'm inclined to think that I missed something important because I can't understand how anyone could find this book enjoyable.
Our narrator, Nate, is one of the most selfish, snobbish, unlikable narrators I've ever come across. I don't always have to like the narrator of a story (Dorian Gray anyone?) but listening to Nate complain about his life and his lack of respect for pretty much every woman in his life for eight and a half hours--or 250 pages--was like sitting next to someone on the train that just won't shut up. He was like a self-indulgent child that couldn't understand why everything in his life wasn't perfect and gets bored with everything that is. This was probably the point of the book, I realize. But for me to enjoy a book about someone like this, there has to be some redeeming quality in the narrator or some interesting secondary character. There was not.
The plot of the book largely follows Nate's relationship with a new girl, Hannah. To give some background, he has a pretty dysfunctional romantic history. Though it's never explicitly stated, he doesn't seem to consider women his intellectual equals. For maybe the first month of their relationship, the story is very sweet. I found myself hoping that the point of the story was that people can change, that basic human kindness can be found in even the most unlikely of hosts. But then everything starts to deteriorate. I hated Nate for the way he treated Hannah--and women in general. I hated Hannah for being a smart woman and putting up with such a prick. The secondary characters are all caricatures--the Harvard playboy who only dates beautiful women, the bitter intellectual woman who is obsessed with marriage, the slutty damaged girl that every man is fascinated with, even the immigrant parents who came to America to give their son a better life. And I didn't care one way or another what happened to any of them.
I was miserable almost the entire time I read this book. It seemed to be a dreary, hopeless look at the death of romance and human decency in favor of pseudo-intellectual snobbery. (The narrator repeatedly mentions wanting to date a girl who has read Svevo and other hipster-obscure authors.) If you're in the mood to read something that makes you hate relationships or want to feel very smart, this is probably the book for you. Otherwise, skip it.
Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too.
No, I would hope my friends could read it in print. The narrator was awful - whiny, nasal and boring as hell.
Perhaps the Ivy Chronicles.
A woman. A good British male reader. This guy is just awful.
I laughed when I was not annoyed by the horrible reader.
It makes me sad that an excellent debut novel could be ruined by such a bad and clueless reader. That guy is so bad I will never listen to any book he narrates. I would leave the train carriage if he sat next to me and I had to hear him speak. Why do so many American readers think they are actors and over-act? Truly trying and more than a bit annoying. This is why I mostly listen only to British novels, but keep trying to find good american ones. Hard, given the readers.
Don't let the writing or voice-over reading talent leave you hopeful that it has to get better -- it never does.
This is a book about a guy no one cares about -- a grossly immature and a psycho-insecure, fraternity-ish man child with such a paltry sense of self he's incapable of communication, honesty with himself or others, vulnerability -- or any of the things that are required for actual intimacy in a relationship. So the book takes you through his pathetic attempts to find a sense of self through women he's never authentic with.
The character appears female fear-contrived more than authentic, and if he exists, no one -- especially women (and this is chick lit) -- would want to spend time getting to know him in a book or otherwise. I just want to send him to therapy for his childhood traumas.
If his character were minor, he'd be useful in stirring up drama and give the reader someone to detest for his stupidity, but as the main character he's a predictable bore.
Due to the author's writing skills and the decently talented reader (although many of his impersonations of women sound only like drag queens or black soul sister) however, I kept waiting for the book to get better. Trust me, there's NO reason to continue. None. It's a female insecurity and fear-derived version of a male soap opera. Well-written and complete junk.
I had quite a bit of trouble with the character of Nate. He believes in his own superior intelligence, but he's shallow, he's superficial, and he's unaware of his own feelings. He doesn't know what he wants in a woman. One of the passages that really annoyed me was when he fixated on the loose flesh under his girlfriend's arms. The same girlfriend who he earlier described as "almost too thin" is suddenly not working hard enough at Pilates and he is repulsed by her to a degree that's beyond comprehension. I'm sure my mouth hung open in disbelief while I listened to this portion of the book.
I was frustrated by Nate because I kept wondering, "do men really think this way?" Certainly his actions were familiar to those I'd encountered in my dating life. While dating one woman he became more and more critical and she tried harder and harder to please him, which resulted in him feeling contempt for her. This book may be written by a woman, but I have to believe that she has some insight into the mind of shallow, rude men. I only kept listening to see if Nate got his comeuppance.
The performance of Nick Podehl didn't help matters. Several times the inflection he used for a character's voice didn't match the description of the tone that the character was supposed to have used. (Which made me wonder about the direction and the editing as well) Worst of all, he doesn't know how to voice female characters. All his female characters sounded like stereotypically bitchy, lisping gay men instead of women, and the voice for a particular character wasn't consistent throughout the read. I can't recommend the audio version of this book for that reason alone.
Self-absorbed 20-somethings in New York.
Good reader but did not remotely enjoy this book.
Narrator was good.
Extreme annoyance with self-absorbed, angst-ridden, spoiled 20-year olds in New York. No redeeming value either to the people or their preoccupation with themselves.
The reader detracted from the story, although I have to say I didn't much care for the novel either. The reader mis pronounced the names of familiar NYC and Brooklyn landmarks and had an unrecognizable accent for the Israeli character. The story was trying to be a contemporary book of manners, after Jane Austen etc, but in effect was tedious and annoying.
not really, see above. Plus, I think the book was what a woman thinks a man thinks like. Not what a man really thinks like.
write this review
Upon reading the summary for Love Affairs, I knew that this was something that I wanted to read. As a single female, who doesn't want to understand the mind of a man more? I thought that this would be that book - a fictional tale delving into the psyche of a man and I would finish the book with a huge revelation about relationships...but I didn't.
It was an awkward story - I think that was in part to a woman being the author. There were times when Nate sounded more female than male and it made it hard to believe. It probably would have been much better if a man wrote from a man's perspective. There is no way possible a woman can write from a man's perspective. I know it is fiction - but I was hoping for more. It took me three times to even start and get into the story. It was just a disappointing read altogether.
Any time spent reading/listening to something thought-provoking is time well spent. I did find I preferred to read my hard copy than listen, though. (See comment on Nick's performance.)
I don't think "enjoyable" was what Waldman was going for. She wrote a book that was meant to be uncomfortable, and it succeeded.
The way he does women's voices: most of them sounded like Miss Piggy. I am not kidding. Luckily most of the narrative is in Nate's head, and Podehl is fine when he's doing the male voice.
Oh, I don't think so. Hollywood would do terrible, terrible things to this movie. Even if it were an indie flick, it wouldn't work: too much time in people's heads. There's not enough action to put this into film form.
The book is described as witty, which it is; it's also described as funny, which it isn't. (Except on occasion.) Waldman is an excellent writer and takes the subject of dating seriously, as she says through one of her characters: "I just hate the way so many men treat 'dating' as if it's a frivolous subject ... Dating is probably the most fraught human interaction there is. You're sizing people up to see if they're worth your time and attention, and they're doing the same to you." Waldman apparently does a bang-up job (according to male reviewers) of getting inside the skull of a man, which is no easy task. The positive reviews she's received from men is surprising, considering she is basically skewering them. Nate seems likable enough until the end; his choices at that point push him firmly into pathetic asshole territory. In many ways, though this book is ostensibly about love affairs, and the plot centers on one, it's the polar opposite of the romance novel.
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