Unemployed woman meets man on the Internet in this forceful, scabrous satire-cum–morality tale.
This is a remarkably assured debut from Simone, a singer and the author of a collection of essays (You Must Go and Win, 2011). When we learn on the first page that Anna Krestler has been collecting spam, and on the second that she has been let go from a midtown law firm named Pinter, Chinski and Harms, the satiric fix is in. Anna lives in a world where, “It hardly seemed possible that a person who didn’t exist on the Internet could exist at all.” That this might be our world is terrifying. Adrift in Brooklyn, Anna rooms with Brie, a perpetual intern who Googles herself the morning after parties to see what kind of time she had. Anna’s dear friend Leslie, married, with a young daughter and struggling to have a second child, has found the straight and narrow high road, traveling from business school to a job at the consulting firm McKinsey, with stops for yoga and Third Wave Coffee. Leslie volunteers as Anna’s life coach, but Anna needs more help than Leslie can provide. When Anna responds to a Craigslist ad for a film intern, she meets the charismatic but evasive Taj, an experimental filmmaker. Taken with him, her new opportunity and her new self, she plunges into a life that even her mother can surmise is not what it seems. This is the punch line of every joke about the Internet, and Simone puts sting in that punch. The title is the weakest part of the book: It doesn’t do justice to the wickedness, the folly and the abject narcissism of the main character, and character is fate.
Witty, wicked and occasionally too clever. If Simone writes songs half as well as she writes fiction, expect her to become a household name.