Saturday, March 24, 2012

These days

I'm not sure what it is that initially drew me to These Days Are Ours, by Michelle Haimoff. The story follows Hailey, a recent college grad, jobless and somewhat directionless — drinking, supping, and hooking up — in post-9/11 New York City. Haimoff sounded kind of smart, and I thought I could relate to directionlessness.

But it turns out I have little else in common with a privileged Jewish 20-something-year-old, born and raised in New York to famous and connected parents.

It's Catcher in the Rye meets Sex and the City, which made for pleasant vacation reading, on planes and poolside. While I was certainly engaged by the writing, I'm not sure what, if anything, lifts it above chick lit. Or maybe, at 20-something plus 20, I'm just too old to appreciate this kind of story — not exactly coming-of-age, not exactly maturing into adulthood... although, I guess there's something to how 9/11 made us all grow up in a way.

In the supplementary material at the back of the book, Haimoff states:

Often female character fall into the Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, Miranda paradigm where one is the outrageous one, one is the uptight one, etc. But in real life, women are much more nuanced than that. While the characters in the book have their moments of outrageousness, uptightness, etc., these qualities don't define their personalities. It was important to me to have the dialogue between female characters be almost interchangeable. When my friends and I talk, we often can't remember who said what funny thing or who came up with which insight. These chracters are the same way.

I think it's true to a degree, but (and maybe it's my age showing again) I think my groups of friends over the years have consisted of distinct personalities. If not their qualities, what does define their personalities then? And even if real people do blur together sometimes, I expect more definition from art. I mean, character! Or is Haimoff saying that literature should strive for more realism?

Or maybe real people don't have distinct personalities anymore (let alone character).

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