By Dyan Sheldon
New York: Avon Books, 1993
ISBN # 0-380-72078-7
358 pages

Comments by Bob Corbett
February 2009

Thirty-four year old Michael Householder is a good looking bachelor, literary agent, avid gourmet cook, but not a very decent man to women. No matter. It's the time in which he lives which creates this novel:

"As of the summer of 1986, some stockbroker in the Village and I were the only two fully operational, healthy, solvent, heterosexual males within, say, a seventy-mile radius of New York City, whose sell-by date had not yet expired."

After a spate of books (several written by women whom Michael represents) selling the idea to New York women, that if they weren't married by age 35 it was about the end of the world for them, Michael becomes wildly pursued. Single women and friends and relatives of single women badger Michael, and presumably this other fellow, to date and eventually marry these soon to be over the hill women.

Thus begins a fast-paced novel, in part a laugh-out-loud hilarious tale, in part a voyage of discovery, in part a gripping crime novel, all in one cram-packed 250 pages. Breathtaking.

In the first fourth of the novel Michael is really funny. I did actually laugh aloud while waiting for a plane, and during flight, drawing many attempts by people around me to see what I was reading.

In the next section, Michael's search for self identity, an often painful section, it becomes clear that he was a bit of a jerk. The comic humor even begins to fall flat, and his attempts at humor which mocks others began to bother me quite a bit.

In the crime section of the novel Michael was less funny and less self-discovering than simply fanatical, approaching the insane.

The ending was speedy, seemingly too speedy, and madcap. Perhaps a bit too much of each, but definitely a page turner.

It was amazing to me that the author was a woman who created this strange male character. That bit of extra-text knowledge made the book even more challenging to my mind.

Dyan Sheldon is a fascinating, even amazing writer, but I'm not sure the whole of the novel worked for me. At times it was over the top, as though she was trying to cram too much into one story. Nevertheless it was an impressive book and on the whole a decent read.

My difficulties were that it sort of read like four separate sections that just didn't hang together as a whole. As three related short stories and a short summary that tied them together and mopped up the action -- well then it might have worked.

Bob Corbett


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Bob Corbett