Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
by Adelle Waldman
In this sharply written first novel, Waldman homes in on a self-absorbed writer living in New York City. Nate Piven is still basking in the glow of having sold his first book after years of struggling to support himself with freelance work. His newfound success has given his love life a boost, and a number of women are pursuing him, including his beautiful ex-girlfriend Elisa and brainy Hannah, also a writer. As Hannah and Nate's relationship gets more serious, Nate is quick to blame any communication snafus on Hannah, whose calm and self-confidence begin to evaporate. Although Nate thinks of himself as enlightened, a product of a postfeminist, 1980s childhood and a politically correct, 1990s college education, his actions continually belie that self-image. Nate is constantly jockeying for status among his friends and critiquing women's bodies, clothes, and looks even as he tries to figure out why his relationships never last. The novel is most likely to appeal to twentysomethings, who will no doubt recognize the preening male so thoroughly skewered here, but older readers may be put off by such an unlikable lead character. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews