Saturday, September 02, 2006

Instant Love by Jami Attenburg

It's been a long, long time since I sat and read an entire novel from cover to cover, nonstop, and enjoyed thoroughly every minute of it. "Instant Love" provides cleverly intercut stories of perpendicular and intersecting lives; it's a sparse, brutally honest look at beginnings, middles and endings and the strange need humans have to connect, even if only for a moment.
Attenburg's journalistic past gives her an eye for detail in dialogue and imagery that never rings false, so her characters have all the quirk, depth and callousness of very real people. This is as far from chick-lit as you can get, and offers up a sharp, edgy, both sad and euphoric, sometimes cynical but never bitter view of what drives people to - and away from - love.

Some excerpts, not personally relevent but breathtakingly well written:

"She'd be the first to listen when she talked about how he loved his dog more than her, told her how to talk and act and walk, how he'd given her typewritten instructions on how to deal with a dog, how he'd watched her like a hawk when he wasn't off being famous somewhere, how he was slowly closing in on her but only on his terms, only when it was convenient for him, how he almost got her, she was this close to falling for it, how all the little things she liked about him in the beginning were all the things she hated about him in the end."

"I look at him, try to picture him here in the morning and the evening, with the sunrise and the sunset, every single day. I can see someone, but it's not him, it's not his face. I see Alan's smile, and I see the legs of a man I invited to my house once, strong and lean, and I see a man with my father's mind, and I see a man who works two floors down from me at work who makes me laugh all the time in the elevator, and I see someone with my sister's generosity who can give until he bleeds - I like that sometimes, the bleeding - and I see the satisfied faces who look at me for that instant as they groan like I'm the woman they love. I see bits and pieces, parts, fractions, hundreds of people comprising the one perfect man, and I know suddenly that he's out there, even if this one, he's not the one."

“We are all walking around this city with our hearts sadly swimming in our chests, like dying fish on the surface of a still pond. It’s enough to make you give up entirely.”

"You would think I could help a friend, that my back would be strong because I'm young and healthy. But my back is actually weak, because I have never had to use it before, not once. I have never lifted a heavy object, and I certainly never had to carry someone who needed my help."

"At least I have the good sense to kick my men out after we're done. In and out in two hours or less. I don't pretend to be nice. I take what I can and move on. They should have the common courtesy to do the same. "

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