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IT COULD BE WORSE, YOU COULD BE ME by Ariel Leve

IT COULD BE WORSE, YOU COULD BE ME

By Ariel Leve

Pub Date: April 13th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-186459-9
Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

A Debbie Downer pontificates on the minutiae of her daily life.

Sunday Times Magazine contributor Leve apparently likes only two things: drinking coffee and talking on the phone. But even those things have their problems. She worries, for example, that the deli proprietor has customers to whom he pays more attention, or that he’ll be disappointed in her when he delivers her order. Though she loves talking on the phone to close friends, she also acknowledges that she’s much better over e-mail. Such is her essentially pleasureless existence, and in a series of short vignettes, she chronicles the things she hates—sunny Saturdays, dinner parties (in New York, though London ones are marginally better), most other parties, boyfriends, not having boyfriends, trying new things, surprises, giving gifts, wedding receptions and so on. She fantasizes about living alone in the middle of nowhere, so she doesn’t have to interact with people, and quips that the best kind of boyfriend might be on death row—guaranteed to be a bigger loser than she is. A rampant hypochondriac, she frets about hair loss, complains about her gynecologist and, like the rest of America, has problems with her health insurance. There are witty moments, particularly the stories about her oddball cast of friends and acquaintances, but there’s so much idle complaining to wade through that it’s difficult to focus on them. The New York neurotic has always been a source of comedy, but even Woody Allen and Tina Fey are happy some of the time, which keeps them likable.

A dour and narcissistic Seinfeldian exercise.