Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mini-Review: The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, by Melissa Bank

Melissa Bank's debut, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, had been on my "to read" list since it came out in 1999. I managed to finally get around to picking up a copy last year, and then to finally read it now.

The book got a lot of buzz when it came out. It looked hip. It was hailed as a collection of linked short stories about "the alternately confusing and empowering state of being female in late-twentieth-century America" by ELLE. They should have specified the "state of being a NEW YORK female..." because other than us being female, I felt no connection to the characters.

What I did enjoy was how the collection was structured -- beginning with Jane in her youth, bouncing to other female characters whose lives intersect in some way with Jane's, and then back to Jane all grown up and a little bit wiser, but still not-quite-adept at finding out how to be herself in a relationship (if she ever finds out who she really is in the first place). What I did not enjoy was that Jane did not seem to experience much emotional growth. Things happened to her. She reacted.

Finishing The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, I realized I'm just not into books about single New York women with relationship problems. I was a different person when I put it on my "to read" list thirteen years ago. I'm just not the kind of person to enjoy these sorts of stories anymore.

Yes, this can be considered an "owl review" -- as reviewers in the business call them -- where the reviewer says something like "This book contained owls. I don't like owls. Therefore, I did not enjoy this book."

If you enjoy books about young New York City women finding their way in the world (think Sex in the City, The Nanny Diaries, etc.), then this might be for you. Check it out. If not, give it a pass.

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