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LOVE AND HAPPINESS by Galt Niederhoffer


by Galt Niederhoffer

Pub Date: July 30th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-312-64373-7
Publisher: St. Martin's

From Niederhoffer (The Romantics, 2008, etc.), the romantic escapades and indecision of an independent film producer who feels alienated from her husband and trapped by domesticity.

Native New Yorker Jean met Sam, a budding filmmaker from Ohio new to New York City, when they were in their mid-20s and full of bohemian energy and artistic ambition. Now, they are married with two kids, living in a Brooklyn brownstone they can’t afford to renovate, their marriage as stalled as the economy. While Jean’s career as a producer means finding financing for Sam’s latest film, she hates asking people for money; an independent filmmaker herself, Niederhoffer gives a behind-the-scenes look at the business with an insider’s satiric disaffection. While Jean loves her children, she’s not enthralled with the drudgery of motherhood either. As for Sam, he’s a nice guy, but the chemistry has evaporated. Jean escapes reality by writing daily—never-actually-sent emails to her college (Harvard, natch) boyfriend, Doug. Then one day, she actually sends an email asking him to meet for a drink, and he says yes. The rendezvous does not go well. Soon afterward, she travels to Los Angeles to convince a wavering actor to stay committed to Sam’s film. At the hotel bar, she flirts with a man named Benjamin, who leaves without paying for his drink until the maitre d’ calls him (using the phone number Benjamin gave Jean). Jean suspects he’s conned her, but he claims he was merely flustered by her charm. Back in Brooklyn, she obsessively researches Benjamin on the Internet, creating scenarios of him in her head until the real Benjamin slowly reveals himself. Meanwhile, Sam finds the stash of Jean’s unsent emails to Doug, assumes they are carrying on an affair and reacts accordingly. By the time the movie begins shooting, Jean must decide where her rather brittle heart belongs.

Whether the reader finds the novel’s tone snarky or witty, Jean tends to self-described “incessant, unbridled thinking” that remains shallow and becomes tedious long before she chooses her man.