Friday, December 21, 2007

The Guy Not Taken

Oh how disappointed I am, let me count the ways...

When it comes to 'chick-lit' I'm picky. I'm not a fan of the Shopaholic series, nor did I find Bridget Jones life changing. But I have always enjoyed the writing of Jennifer Weiner. "Goodnight Nobody", "In her Shoes", "Good In Bed", and "Little Earthquakes" are all books I loved and have read more than once. So it was with a bit of excitement that I picked up "The Guy Not Taken" a collection of short stories by the author as a nice holiday treat to myself.

I should have bought myself a fruitcake.

It's not as though Jennifer's writing takes a completely different tone in this collection, she still is able to write a sentence I am envious of, but it's everything else that falls by the way side- the stories, the mood, and most importantly- the characters.

The first few stories center around a family who has been abandoned by their father. The narrator is funny and dry, but her domineering sister takes over the tale and is perhaps- the most annoying character to ever been created. She's greedy and thoughtless and it's never made clear why the narrator (or anyone else really) ever REALLY sticks up to her. It's only after she's ruined the inside of her grandmothers car (by leaving in food that gets infested by maggots) that you see anyone get upset with her. I found myself skimming the book early on just to save myself the trouble of reading about her.

And when you are skimming pages early on, it's never a good sign.

The stories do improve as the book goes on, but I couldn't help but think I would have preferred to re-read one of her old works than invest time and money in this one. Even her best stories in the collection ("Dora on the Beach", "Buyers Market") aren't enough to pull the book out of the mediocrity that she falls back into with this piece of work.


armalicious said...

Ah...I'm so glad that I'm not alone in the not liking these stories camp. I heart Jennifer Weiner (currently re-reading Good in Bed for the umpteenth time...Cannie cracks my shit up.) and was really excited about these short stories, too. But yeah...they just weren't good (weren't looks funny right there, doesn't it?). I still have a few stories unread out of book, in fact...

Airam said...

I bought this book like a year ago and haven't read it yet. Ah well. I'll need to pick up the other books you two suggested by her.

brandy said...

Arm- Yep, I definitely like "Good in Bed" so much more. Le sigh. Reading this book was like unwrapping a really bad Christmas present.

Airam- Yep, check out her other ones first. This one is not a favourite. (If you know, you couldn't tell from my review. ;) )

Amber said...

I TOTALLY agree!! I'm a big Jennifer Weiner fan and absolutely adore just about everything she's written.

Although... I'm very excited for Certain Girls the sequel to Good in Bed to come out in a couple weeks! :)