I don’t like to can books without giving reasons why. So, in regards to Love and Happiness by Galt Niederhoffer:
01. Dialogue: terrible, stilted, awkward – kind of surprising because my understanding was that Niederhoffer has written screen plays, so I assumed that she would be across the dialogue thing.
“You’re so sexy,” said Sam. “Out there, fighting for us. You sexy independent woman.”
“Sam,” said Jean. “I’ve been up all night. I’m going to sleep for an hour.”
“Come on. Before the kids wake up.” He lunged from the bed and kissed her neck, his version of romantic. Jean returned the kiss with a polite version.
“Honey, we’re really doing it,” said Sam, ignoring Jean’s signal.
“Doing what?” said Jean.
“You know…the People Who Said It Couldn’t Be Done. The Disbelievers. The Masses.”
“Honey, there’s no one opposing force. It’s just us and our goals, our compulsions.”
“Jeannie, come on. This is the dream. Both of us on the same side, fighting for our salvation.”
02. Characters: characters are introduced with great fanfare and then simply disappear – what happened to the investor guy with the private jet? What about the actor? And then there’s the remarkable lack of consistency with character traits – Jean is apparently ‘shy’ but also chats up men at the drop of a hat and is a pushy indie-movie producer…
03. Plot: ludicrous. On so many levels. Jean is idiotic to the power of one hundred – she meets some random guy in a bar; starts texting him; thinks he might be a con-man; stays up all night spending money on online data services trying to discover if he is con man; hires a private investigator; meets up with con man suspect anyway; convinced she is in love after first date: starts an affair with him. Meanwhile, fuck-all mention of her husband, kids, job… the whole thing was so unconvincing. I couldn’t imagine a single bit of it actually happening.
Within minutes, Ben had secured his spot as Jean’s new favorite person, starred in a handful of leading roles in high-concept daydreams. Jean was halfway through a romp in which they escaped to a deserted island. But before she could crest the arc of act one, he was ripping the bar check in half, scrawling something on the back, and handing it to Jean like a secret agent.
and then –
I ended the night pretty assured I had met my soulmate.
04. Relevance (or rather, irrelevance): large chunks of text about movie investors and the specifics of crew roles on a movie set? Whatever.
05. Repetitive: clearly Niederhoffer has written about the same thing many ways and instead of editing, she decided to use #ALLTHESENTENCES.
Just like this, Jean settled into her nightly ritual, an elaborate process whereby she pretended to work but, in fact, distracted herself from her desired concentrations. A master of multitasking, she achieved impressive feats of procrastination, creating ever more byzantine methods to distance herself from the one thing she actually wanted. Jean was an optical illusion, an impossible math problem, a human treadmill; with every step she took closer to her goals, she pushed herself further from them.
06. Bizarre analogies: just urgh –
Listening to his snapshotted stories, each one preserved by its simple frame, Jean felt an all-consuming rush that was much like being pulled by a tide. It was both an exhilarating honor to be privileged with the contents of another person’s heart, and a terrifying and fearsome pull to be carried by its current.
I received my copy of Love and Happiness from the publisher, St Martin’s Press, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve paired Love and Happiness with a Corpse Reviver. Say no more.