The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld
I once had a friend who spent a significant amount of time thinking about whether she would be friends with herself. Not if she liked herself, mind you, but more whether, if she was two people, if they would get along. She asked me one day if I would be friends with myself, and after much thought, I had to admit that I probably wouldn’t. Friendships are tough between people who are too similar, in my opinion.
That’s kind of how I felt about The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s the pitch-perfect story of a rather socially awkward young woman who is trying to navigate the waters of young adulthood, which seems to mostly involve alternately not dating at all and finally sleeping with men she doesn’t really like.
There’s no doubt that it’s wonderfully written — so wonderfully, in fact, that I found myself awash in nostalgia during the college years. Hannah, though her experience was not quite the same as mine, is at her core the same as I was in college (and still am now, to an extent).
But while I could identify with, sympathize with, and even like Hannah, I didn’t get the sense that we would be friends. There remained this odd distance between Hannah and I as the reader — she was holding back on me, pushing me away. I don’t blame her, as I would do the same thing if some stranger was peering into my private life. But it does make truly caring about the story and what happens to her a bit more difficult.
That said, it is a wonderful book and the perfect companion to Prep. Sittenfeld has the Atwood-esque ability to suddenly drop a paragraph or even a sentence into the middle of the narrative that is so correct and so true, it’s hard not to nod in agreement, even if you’re in public and the nodding makes you look like a crazy person. Despite my experience, this is definitely a Book worth Borrowing — not buying, just in case you and Hannah are too similar to be friends as well.
Entry filed under: Contemporary Fiction.