The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

Nate Piven may or may not be a “bad” person. He’s certainly evocative of most men from a recent generation, a generation born in the beginning of a new hipster laden, politically correct world. But this in-depth perspective into his thoughts provides an outlook that doesn’t deem him as a “bad” or “good” guy, just maybe a guy unaware of his self and others. He starts out from page one as a bit of a dick. And years of rom-coms and story arcs have taught me that by the end of this novel, he’ll have realized his mistakes and learned a thing or two about women.

The problem is that this book tricks you into thinking that maybe this a possibility. However, Nate, as self depreciating as he can be sometimes, really didn’t garner any sympathy from me. Not that this had to end with a fairytale wedding, but there should be some character growth?

Maybe there will be. We leave Nate off after he’s certainly attempted to do some self searching, but we don’t know if he necessarily succeeds.

It paints a lot of all encompassing statements about each gender. While it’s sort of a psychological study of these particular characters in this particular story, it never offers any commentary I’d call insightful.

I also didn’t ever fully believe the setting. Trying to capture the essence of the Brooklyn literati doesn’t work well here. It reads like trying to capture slang on paper. It feels somehow false. Nate’s particular friend group can be overly pretentious as well, & I prefer reading novels that skew more to the side of poking fun at the pretension, not amping it up.

Overall I enjoyed the book while reading it. The characters were real enough to remind me of people from my own experience, but fictional enough to be consistently interesting. But as time passed after I finished, I realized I didn’t remember much. Nothing stood out. For a book which aims to delve into the context of relationships, it didn’t really do much that hasn’t been done better elsewhere.

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