Amanda Gates

Book: The Marriage Plot

As I said in my Goodreads review: Dear Eugenides Editor, Just because your author has won the Pulitzer Prize doesn’t mean you should stop editing him altogether. This book could’ve been 100 pages shorter and 100 times more entertaining. Sincerely, A.

I didn’t care much for The Marriage Plot. In the first quarter of the book, I had a really hard time relating to the self-involved, over-indulged college students who sat around talking about philosophy all day. While maybe that’s what college is like for some, it’s not what it was like for me. I wanted to shake these kids and say, “This stuff doesn’t matter. Learn some transferrable skills. Prepare for the workforce. This isn’t real life!”

I couldn’t connect with Eugenides’ female lead, and the two male leads seemed like major d-bags, so I didn’t like them either. The detail was so extreme (a half-page describing her typewriter), that I ended up skimming to the dialogue most often.  There was nothing in this story to grab me, and while I don’t always need that (Middlesex wasn’t extremely grabby either, but it was so much better), this book needed something to make me actually care.

There’s a bit of discussion about manic depression, which I did find fascinating. It seems like it’s a no-win situation and really unfortunate that we haven’t gotten farther in terms of treating mental illness in this country. The relationships of the college kids and their parents were also pretty interesting, if lacking in depth for some. But, some could maybe pick out their own child-parent relationship from one of the three.

I admit that I’m at a time in my life when I can’t just sit back and sink into a long drawn-out character tale; I have too many things rolling around in my mind these days that I need a book to take me away and this one didn’t do it. My mind wandered instead, and that made reading it all the more frustrating. Other readers may be just in the right place in life for a story like this, though.

And finally, I’ll also admit that Jennifer Weiner’s gotten to me with her arguments about male writers being reviewed in the New York Times. “If a man writes about a family, it's like, oh, he's really writing about America," Weiner says. "If a woman writes about a family, it's just assumed that she's writing about herself." If a woman had wrote a book like this, it would’ve been called Chick Lit and not given the time of day by the NYT. However, I think it could’ve been way more exciting and a lot more fun to read.

 

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