THE NUMBERS MAN by Pat  Muir

THE NUMBERS MAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A romantic comedy that details the internet dating exploits of a newly single writer.

Pat Muir, a semiretired, trained geophysicist who manages an apartment complex, gets divorced after 30 years of marriage and suddenly finds himself responsible for preparing his own meals. He’s inspired to self-publish a book about his experiences, The Single Man’s Guide to a Quick Meal, and he promotes it on various radio talk shows. In the meantime, he scours the internet for companionship, finding more than 50 candidates for a potential long-term relationship. He assigns each date a sequential numeral: “I more easily recall women I have met by their number,” he narrates. “My scientific training has led me to remember numbers—all kinds of physical constants and conversion factors.” Pat begins a relationship with retiree Beth—number 57—but when she leaves town, he becomes entangled with Donna, a successful, attractive lawyer. He struggles with guilt over dating both women at the same time, and he worries that Donna is accustomed to a lifestyle that he could never afford. He’s invited to be a guest on a television cooking show hosted by Joyce Minsky, a woman embittered by the end of her own marriage, and the two are immediately at loggerheads. Their acrimony makes for good television, though, and as they get better acquainted, Pat begins to see her in a new, less pugilistic light. Author Muir (Stories to Entertain You…If You Get Bored on Your Wedding Night, 1999) realistically depicts the dating scene for the older set, which is, of course, no less fraught with challenges than it is for younger folk. He employs a lighthearted prose style that’s always unpretentious and occasionally funny. However, the bulk of the story is dominated by descriptions of the quotidian—Pat’s small talk during his dates, for instance, or detailed accounts of his radio interviews and the unspectacular romantic foibles of his employee, Bill. As a result, it often feels as if the novel is simply laying out a series of loosely connected happenings, rather than a cohesive plot, and it ends abruptly with a sense of exhausted disinterest.

A companionable but often dull account of romantic travails.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2010
Page count: 262pp
Publisher: PMBOOK
Program: Kirkus Indie
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