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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "There's too much agitation over words in our lives."
In edgy and insightful prose, Attenberg manages to be brutally honest and entertaining, her characters defined by the human imperfections that spring to life when dreams are thwarted, no matter how unrealistic those dreams may be. With persistent precision, the author pulls her protagonists' lives apart like fragile butterfly wings, exposing the soft underbellies of...
Published on June 13, 2006 by Luan Gaines

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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It's just like________when he was listening to _________
If you are thinking of reading this book, I have some advice that could save you some time and money:
1. Drive to the affluent suburbs or a medium size midwestern city
2. Steal the diary of a 16 old girl who thinks of herself as "mature"
3. Omit the interesting parts
4. Insert references to indie-rock bands, subconsciously aligning the writing with...
Published on July 13, 2007 by M. A. Rodriguez


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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "There's too much agitation over words in our lives.", June 13, 2006
This review is from: Instant Love: Fiction (Hardcover)
In edgy and insightful prose, Attenberg manages to be brutally honest and entertaining, her characters defined by the human imperfections that spring to life when dreams are thwarted, no matter how unrealistic those dreams may be. With persistent precision, the author pulls her protagonists' lives apart like fragile butterfly wings, exposing the soft underbellies of disappointed youth and the harsh reality of adulthood, the defense mechanisms that become more practiced with age and experience.

Maggie marries predictable Robert because he is thoughtful, or so she believes when first they meet. His more than adequate salary provides everything she needs; Maggie becomes adept at hiding her real self, tucking it deep inside while she smiles at her husband approvingly, sporting her massive diamond wedding set. When she finally shares some of her thoughts with Robert, he is appalled, unbelieving and judgmental, just as she has expected, but Maggie is coming of age. Holly, Maggie's older sister, is single more by accident than intent, spending hours perusing dating sites on the internet, enjoying the clever fictions of the posts, the small lies and ingenious remarks that turn frog into prince. These online Lotharios are always a disappointment in person, a cross between very lonely guys and emotional cripples. Holly's first boyfriend, her first love, seems so very long ago.

Sarah Lee has been waiting all her life, always on the outside looking in, hyper-aware that everyone has someone but her, ever since the one who got away. She savors the perfection of the moment, knowing that once the bite is taken from the apple, it will never be so sweet again. She prepares for that moment, waiting for her chance at love, her small but precious taste of the forbidden fruit.

The protagonists are further defined by the peripheral characters in their lives, the odd acquaintances and ex-boyfriends, ex-husbands, girlfriends, Holly and Maggie's famous writer-father, grasping at youth and notoriety as the years encroach, his children as distant as the old photographs carefully placed on bedside tables in their unused rooms. Time passes inexorably by, lovers missing each other on the way to romantic trysts and one-night stands, anxious to seal the deal. With acute perception, Attenberg delves below the brittle surface of what looks like love, probing the deepest yearnings, hopes and doubts of her characters. Luan Gaines/ 2006.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instantly loved it., June 29, 2006
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This review is from: Instant Love: Fiction (Hardcover)
This collection of interconnected stories about love and relationships is stunning in every way -- artful, honest, funny, terrible, and very real. From the etiquette of ordering sex buddies off the internet, to the compromise of loving a decent man who bores you, INSTANT LOVE explores facets of love both post-modern and eternal. Like Lorrie Moore or Curtis Sittenfeld, Attenberg has a knack for nailing a heretofore un-nailed emotional moment, gesture, or bit of dialogue, whether spoken or just thought; she shines a light on the smallest details so that every scene is a fresh revelation. This book made me smirk, it made me sad; it made me think about all my past relationships and made me grateful for my current one. Great job. Can't wait for the next one!
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It's just like________when he was listening to _________, July 13, 2007
This review is from: Instant Love: Fiction (Paperback)
If you are thinking of reading this book, I have some advice that could save you some time and money:
1. Drive to the affluent suburbs or a medium size midwestern city
2. Steal the diary of a 16 old girl who thinks of herself as "mature"
3. Omit the interesting parts
4. Insert references to indie-rock bands, subconsciously aligning the writing with "underground" music and culture, replacing the need to create a tome or voice of your own by leaning on the work and credibility of others (See also: High Fidelity) This is a great way to "cast" the feel of your book. Like instead of describing the appearance or mannerisms of a character just say "he looked like CELEBRITY NAME and was shouting like in POPULAR FILM. It removes the need for almost all prose.
5. Read the same week of the diary multiple times, changing the scenario ever so slightly.

Ta-Da!

It might be extra work, but it will at least be more fun and original.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instantly..., March 26, 2007
This review is from: Instant Love: Fiction (Hardcover)
I felt that someone has created "chick lit" that is meaty, it has heart, soul and tells it like it is, sister! So un chick lit like really. But it still "got me" how chick lit can do.

Jami so poignantly depicts the modern woman's cry: "where is he? I've been dating since I was sixteen!" Not to quote Charlotte from Sex and the City but I did, so there. What I love about this book is the normalcy of these girls that blossom into women. We all know them...we may be one and thus we can relate and cheer them on when they stab the prevert in the leg for being a typical man.

She captures my junior high moments so well in "The Perfect Triangle," in which we all feel incredibly akward because we like a boy and figure that make-up is the way to his heart just to have your friend take away his attention. I love how she weaves marriage into a cliche. She wanted a big ring. She got it. She regretted it later, like most women in San Francisco who were just after the Starbucks latte in one hand, Gap hat on, stroller in hand, decorated with the De Beers 3 karat or Tiffany's rock.

Thank you Jami for creating something that I've never read but is akin to Julie Orringer's collection of short stories.

I so enjoyed it!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Would give in no stars if I could., January 8, 2008
By 
B. Williamson (Table Grove, IL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Instant Love: Fiction (Paperback)
I read many books, and this was one of the few that I was unable to finish. The characters and story line did not flow well, and I could not make any sense of it. A waste of time and paper.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read!, August 4, 2006
By 
Ellen (New York / London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Instant Love: Fiction (Hardcover)
Jami Attenberg has a real ear for dialogue as well as an ability to articulate the common experiences of women. Her characters are well drawn and engaging and their stories are rich with detail and emotion.

I particularly like that these stories have edge - there is no predictable action or resolution and the characters' thoughts and actions are at times dark, cynical or flawed.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a reprieve from the dull parade of chick lit out there.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The loneliness that leads to love and the loves that lead to lonely lives, July 17, 2011
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This review is from: Instant Love: Fiction (Paperback)
The twelve stories of "Instant Love" cast a cynical, gritty, and sometimes laugh-out-loud view at the loneliness that leads to love and the loves that lead to lonely lives. "Tell me the end of your story. I hope it's a happy ending," Maggie tells Robert in "The Sleepwalker," but the happy truth is that Attenberg favors the realities of disappointment or, at best, the ambiguity of aloneness.

A more diligent reader could probably construct a chart showing the relationships among the characters and their lives, but frankly I found the effort a distraction from the stories themselves (thus the reviewer who didn't like the book because "the characters and story line did not flow well"). Although there are several recurring characters (Holly, Maggie, Sarah Lee, and friends) and overlapping references to past events, this isn't a novel; you could read the stories in any order and not worry about the "flow." In an interlude written for the paperback edition, Attenberg, without using the term, compares the book to a concept album, composed of individual tracks. (The paperback edition includes "Spare Change," a "bonus track.")

The comparison to a concept album is dead on. Although the stories inhabit the same fictional world and share a weary yet eternally hopeful view of sexual relationships, the styles, voices, and cadences vary widely from track to track. The straightforward storytelling in "The Manzanita Grove" (when Carolina finds herself in competition with a dog for a man's love and attention) is light years away in tone from the first-person quasi-stream-of-consciousness of the title story (about a woman who hooks up with men through online dating sites and who is disgusted by the frat-boy antics of the stockbrokers living across the hall).

Although there are several stories that are especially good (among them the aforementioned "The Sleepwalker" and "The Manzanita Grove"), Attenberg saves the best for last (before the bonus track). Flirting with a romantic confidence that would normally turn me off, "Sarah Lee Waits for Love" ends up being the standout precisely because its character's future, while still uncertain, is a startling change from what we've read up until now. But, even more adeptly, the story conveys so accurately the hard-edged jadedness of a single woman who has been a big-city resident for too many years. Think of this collection as the perfect antidote to "That Girl."
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5.0 out of 5 stars This Love Isn't Soft and Girly, June 30, 2006
This review is from: Instant Love: Fiction (Hardcover)
Attenberg offers a group of stories that roughly turn out to read like a novel. Her characters are either searching, or pillaging for, or avoiding the tight clench of love. At her best, Attenberg writes with a hard edge similar to A.M Homes, and her characters are likable working-class anti-heroes.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly real vignettes of life!, July 20, 2006
By 
This review is from: Instant Love: Fiction (Hardcover)
Jami Attenberg is a journalist who has published short stories.

Instant Love, a collection of love stories, and "ending of" love stories, is cleverly interconnected. The principal characters are Maggie and her sister Holly, and Melanie and Sarah Lee; and their assorted boyfriends, conquests, one-night stands, and husbands. Maggie and Holly's father, a famous author, is in one of the stories.

The stories jump from character to character, many not repeated; and are told from various points of view. They drift though relationships, marriages, and friendships, trying to connect with other human beings, and most often failing.

Incredibly real vignettes of life--like putting on makeup at age 17 and making out for the first time on a leather couch; working as a waitress in a country club with obnoxious customers; and a woman who visits a friend who has left her husband, and coming home to an empty house because her husband has left her.

Sad without being maudlin or pathetic; dark without being despairing or oppressive, Attenberg reflects the disjointed attempts at communicating and connecting in this age of Internet dating and first dates in noisy bars.

Attenberg has been compared to Lorrie Moore, Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood; she is definitely a writer to watch. This might make an interesting book club choice; it would be intriguing to see how readers of different ages react to the book.

Armchair Interviews says: So-real stories that anyone can relate to.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS GIRL CAN WRITE, October 17, 2008
By 
M. J. Phillips (Woodstock, IL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Instant Love: Fiction (Paperback)
Jami Attenberg is a fresh voice. Disregard those who say otherwise. Love her characters and the threads that tie the stories together.

I found myself caring for these women and wanting to know them better.

I wouldn't call this chick lit... Anyone who looks beneath the surface and appreciates the layers of cultural influences that shape us will be intrigued by Instant Love.
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Instant Love: Fiction
Instant Love: Fiction by Jami Attenberg (Paperback - April 24, 2007)
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