I'LL TAKE IT by Paul Rudnick
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Rudnick follows his witty, mischievous look at the Manhattan club scene (Social Disease, 1986) with a witty, mischievous second novel about the joys of shopping; his medium is a Jewish domestic comedy (with a twist of larceny). Joe Reckler is persuaded to leave his Manhattan digs for a week to join his mother Hedy, and aunts Pola and Ida, on a car trip through New England "to see the leaves change." Since Joe shares his relatives' "deep, primal need to shop," he understands that this is an excuse for a shopping trip. But Mrs. Reckler has her own agenda: in dire need of a new living-room, she plans, with Joe's help, to relieve L.L. Bean of $10,000. Mother and son's secret is that both are thieves ("people who shop without money"); while Mrs. Reckler also has a full-time job, Yale graduate Joe subsists entirely on his pick-pocketing ("Joe liked to steal and shop and nap"). What happens on the road is that Hedy confesses; though big sister Pola's first reaction is frosty ("Mama was right. You're a hoodlum"), she and Ida eventually yield to temptation themselves: Ida allows Joe to buy her a gorgeous sable with a stolen credit card, and Pola takes a Lincoln Continental on an endless test drive. The only thing this novel lacks is a plot (the L.L. Bean heist does occur, but almost as an afterthought). It works as well as it does because Rudnick has a terrific ear, and a generous comic vision: "watching his mother and aunts shop, Joe saw humor and obsession and skill but never carelessness, cold-hearted greed, or the mere amassing of goods." His three sisters have an irresistible gemutlichkeit that carries the reader along, provokes laugh-out-loud moments, and makes the novel a treat.

Pub Date: May 24th, 1989
ISBN: 394-57917-8
Publisher: Knopf
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