Twenty-two mostly unfunny anecdotes exploring that moment of epiphany when a woman realizes that a disastrous relationship is over.
With enthusiasm but little else, Beck (co-author, Facing 30, not reviewed) brings together a series of repetitive stories chronicling lovers’ angst. The experiences here hardly seem universal or amusing. In “Demon Lover,” Elizabeth Matthews trysts with her lover in the park: “Soon, I associated the act of kissing him with the smell of dog shit.” She lists his other shortcomings: he’s a high-school dropout, has never held a job, lives in a hotel with his mother, has rotting teeth. We see the catastrophe, but where’s the romance? The mood is meant to be flippant, of course, but too many of the contributors mistake salacious details for clever writing. In “The Tao of Pizza and Sex,” R. Gay meets a woman on-line: “Cynthia and I exchanged pictures and she was cute enough, for a white girl, though in all her pictures, her cheeks were inexplicably rosy as if she were plagued by eternal cheer.” After four months, the two decide to meet, but, alas, fair Cynthia has rank hygiene and refuses to clean up her act. Rather than confront her new lover, Gay subjects the reader to all the gory details. Poor hygiene makes several appearances in these confessions: the offending parties wander through the pages, revealing plaque-encrusted teeth, burping, and leaving pungent odors in their wake. There are a few redeeming pieces, thankfully: Rekha Kuver recites a charming tale of an eighth-grade party gone awry (“In the middle of my basement, during the middle of my party, like an unbelievable mirage or projected holographic image, were two high schoolers. . . . This was sure to elevate my boy-girl party to the level of legend. Instead, I was terrified”). Allison Kraiberg recalls her law-student lover (“an Oscar to my Felix”), proving that opposites do attract, and Alison Luterman contributes a typically stellar poem.
All in all, though, insipid and dull.