A few days back, Nick Mamatas linked to this article about what writing her hit debut novel, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, taught her about the emotional and romantic life of the “creative man-child.” In his post, Mamatas quipped that another name for her novel could be WHY DID MY HARVARD BOYFRIEND BREAK UP WITH ME???
Reading her essay, I became strangely interested in reading the novel. So I did. And it was excellent. Thoroughly held my attention. Would recommend it to anyone. But in the interests of not wasting too much time on this post (since it’s going out on a Sunday), I am simply going to copy and paste the text of an email that I just sent to my book group:
Hey Book Club,I just finished reading The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, which was a much-hyped book that came out this year. Honestly, at least 50% of the hype is probably due to the fact that this book is about the Brooklyn-based literary set (the main character is literally a book reviewer) that most book reviewers come from.The book is about a young male novelist and how he sabotages a (fairly short) relationship that he embarks upon with a woman whom he’s somewhat interested in! Since basically every male novelist will eventually write a novel about his own inability to love, this does seem like the set-up for a fairly boring novel.However, it’s written by a woman, and there’s very clearly some kind of project going on: it feels very much like an attempt to understand someone who comes from a very different place than the author. This makes for an interesting level of detachment from the main character. The novel holds him up for constant critique, but also makes a real effort to understand him. It’s a very nuanced portrait: you come away neither loving nor hating him. In the end, you just understand why he does the things he does.I enjoyed it immensely for its insight, control, and empathy, however, there is also an incredible amount of stuff in the book that someone could hate (the triviality of the peoples’ problems, the general caricaturing, the insularity of the setting). To me, that makes it seem like a pretty good candidate for the Book Club. Some will love it. Some will hate it. Some will experience both emotions.Sincerely,Rahul
P.S. It’s also pretty short