GIRLS IN SUITS AT LUNCH by Deanne Stillman


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Humorist Stillman (Titters, 1976) whips up a skinny little novel in dialogue form in which two successful New York women talk about men in the increasingly strange and dangerous 80's. Writer Jane Lazarus and lawyer Trish Bryant meet regularly for long champagne lunches in the Russian Tea Room. They have been best friends since Barnard, so they gloss over respective career landmarks--a partnership for Trish, a second novel for Jane--to get straight to men. The ""urbanely attractive"" Jane has launched into a passionate affair with a third lover named Larry (source of an unfunny triple-confrontation scene and scores of cracks from Jane, Trish, Jane's father, and the spirit of Jane's dead grandmother). Despite her bluster (""Two weeks to ring my bell, or the whole thing's off'), Jane is ready to get married; the problem (and the supposed comedy) is balancing all her ""sexually peaking"" passion with her almost nonexistent gift for commitment. Swept away, Jane takes her cuddly Larry III on a whirlwind trip to her hometown. (They don't actually visit Jane's parents, but she points out standard Cleveland sights--""A sign that advertises a special on Whitman's Samplers and Tylenol!"") Back in Manhattan, they break up. Months later, they prove their trendy love for one another by getting AIDS tests without being asked (yes, they've already slept together). In a closing lunch, wide-open Jane and waspy, private Trish resolve to keep on having lunch and talking about men--even though Jane has married her Larry. Originally a one-act play that was published in 1986 in GQ (and that went on to become a short film), Stillman's linked sketches come off as dated and even a bit sad. Themes like AIDS and marriage and babies are tossed in with snob-appeal bistros and brand names--but Stillman's suits are threadbare, and wincingly out-of-style.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1988
Publisher: Doubleday