Nate Piven’s affairs are convoluted, to say the least, and some of his relationships seem to come right out of Seinfeld episodes.
Where to begin...well, there’s Juliet, who meets Nate after a hiatus and castigates him for his insensitivity, for he’d gotten her pregnant, paid for an abortion and then effectively dumped her. We also meet Elisa, a former girlfriend who renews her interest in Nate now that he’s about to have a book published. At a dinner party, Nate briefly meets Hannah, whom he finds attractive and who later becomes his “serious” girlfriend. They get along great, and Hannah even goes toe-to-toe with Jason, Nate’s overly intellectual best friend. Nate and Hannah settle into a comfortable relationship, both sexual and social, but then (inevitably?) become moody and begin to drift apart. Nate knows the relationship’s over when Hannah sends him a long email detailing the depth and complexity of her feelings, and he fails to respond with a similar email, so he then receives a much shorter and angrier one dismissing him as a jerk. On the rebound, Nate hooks up with Greer, another friend of Hannah’s, and the novel ends with Nate and Greer moving in together. While on the surface things are fine, the relationship is fraught with the usual vulnerabilities and anxieties that characterize all of Nate’s relationships. Throughout the narrative, Waldman also flashes us back to Nate’s earlier girlfriends, pals and hookups.
The characters that populate Waldman’s world are artistic, creative, funny and intelligent—except when it comes to matters of the heart, for they are constitutionally incapable of making long-term commitments. It would be refreshing to find one mature adult.