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Iris Has Free Time Paperback – May 14, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (May 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593765193
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593765194
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The cover should appeal to all the Sex and the City fans out there: a young, Carrie-like girl with long, curly hair, and wearing a tutu, struts down a crowded New York City sidewalk. But this story about a class-of-2000 NYU grad is more Girls than SATC. Wistfully narrating her story in the first person, Iris Smyles, a girl with “intricately designed daydreams,” is never short on youthful antics: passing out in the New Yorker’s cartoon office as an intern; struggling to become a writer while blogging about her ex’s small penis; and subsisting on weird food combinations (deviled eggs made with chocolate syrup). And, of course, there are the men. A slew of ex-boyfriends and regrets and sex litters the landscape as Iris wrestles with the concept of growing up. The novel, which moves back and forth in time, meanders; although frustrating at times, this narrative technique effectively captures Iris’ restlessness. Smyles (the author, not the character) depicts a particular moment in time—that awkward place between being a kid and being an adult—and the results are often hilarious, often tinged with sadness, but always authentic. --Ann Kelley

Review

Praise for Iris Has Free Time

"Smyles, the author not the character, depicts a particular moment in time—that awkward place between being a kid and being an adult—and the results are often hilarious, often tinged with sadness, but always authentic."
-Booklist

“A powerful and generously written statement about the passage of time and the difficulty of becoming someone you can look at in the mirror every morning.”
-USA Today

"Iris Smyles has reinvented Sally Bowles and Holly Golightly for the 21st century--with this difference: she inhabits rather than observes her appealing character."
-Edmund White, author of City Boy and Marcel Proust: A Life

"Iris Has Free Time is a hilarious, lyrical and wise book about youth—its beauty, its folly, and the belief it will go on forever even as it's slipping away. You will love this book."
-Diane Keaton, Academy award winning actress and author of Then Again

"An instant classic… Iris Has Free Time is simultaneously satirical, sarcastic, vulnerable and sincere. It is a smart, funny, wise, and sometimes heartbreaking book about a slowly fizzling love affair with youth. If you haven’t heard about this book yet, you will soon.
-Forbes.com

"If novels made Emma Bovary sick with romantic ideas, a liberal arts degree infects Iris with the same illness in grand proportion…. “Madame Bovary c’est moi,” Flaubert said. Recognizing her illusions and struggles to grow up, we all might say, 'Iris is me.'"
-BOMB magazine

"Iris Smyles has created in 'Iris Smyles' an irresistible anti-heroine whose innocent iconoclasm startles and captivates."
-Frederic Tuten, author of The Adventures of Mao on the Long March

“Iris Smyles is my spirit animal.”
-James St. James, author of Party Monster

"Entertaining as hell."
-SF Weekly

"Such a delight, this book: the perfect frenzied bildungsroman for an era when coming-of-age can be postponed practically to middle age, as funny and sharp as can be but unafraid of seriousness and consequence. It's The House of Mirth minus the no-way-out tragedy, Bright Lights Big City for the 21st century, Girls for people who love the deep dive into great prose."
-Kurt Andersen, author of Heyday

"The hilarious high jinks of a college graduate in New York trying—and frequently failing—to navigate her internship, job interviews, and men, though her slipups rarely dampen her bravado."
-O, The Oprah Magazine

"Delightful, dreamy, witty, sad, and always charismatically engaging and curious, Iris, the narrator and heroine of this tale, lets you into her heart and mind as she observes the passing of her youth and the shadow-like recession of her dreams and romances. In doing so, she makes one think of one's own youth and folly, and all the folly yet to come, because maybe the unspoken message of this story—and one I agree with—is that we never really grow up. At least I hope we don't."
-Jonathan Ames, author of Wake Up, Sir! and creator of HBO's Emmy winning Bored to Death

A darkly comic, affecting portrait of a 20-something with literary ambitions, Iris Has Free Time is a shaggy dog story, in accordance with Iris’s wish to live “plotlessly.” No one conflict overarches this novel; instead, Smyles constructs a portrait of youth by focusing on smaller moments—“stories of tragic dailyness,” as the narrator might put it. That aforementioned narrator is Iris herself, who tells her story in alternating tones—sometimes cynical and snotty, sometimes yearning and vulnerable—while dropping references to cultural detrita both high and low, ranging from The Odyssey and Rebecca to Sex and the City and The Real World. Smyles takes the novel’s epigraph not from Dante, but from “Spark Notes: Dante’s Inferno”—literary, but irreverently so.
-Electric Literature

"If Hemingway's novels are icebergs, drifting majestically through a chilly sea, Iris Smyles's Iris Has Free Time is a mountain of glitter: iridescent, fabulous, and always changing its shape, it's a monument to the idea of fun, and is itself a delight."
-Paul La Farge, author of Luminous Airplanes

“Told in vignettes, unconstrained by time, Iris Has Free Time captures the wandering quality of our twenties, the sense of possibility. Smyles’s free form—her shifting from first person point of view, to second person, to utilizing a Q & A format that is downright philosophical as a mode of storytelling []—is reminiscent of a modern Joyce, a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman.”
-The Rumpus

"It's hard to miss the surface parallels between Sex and the City and Iris Has Free Time… But it would be a mistake to dismiss Iris as a Candace Bushnell knockoff…the novel's deeper themes dovetail far more with Girls…What's more, it seems that unlike Carrie, Iris isn't about to sign herself up for an extra decade of Peter-Pandom. As she asks after surviving a series of benders, 'When did all these games stop being fun?'"
-Elle Magazine

"A labyrinthine concept, paired with a refreshingly straightforward (and lovable) narrator, Iris Has Free Time is a series of serious one-liner gems, laugh-out-loud hilarity, "no-she-didn't" moments of vicarious embarrassment and truly intelligent philosophical observations. The most believable untrue autobiographical treatise on life, love, liquor and literature you'll have the pleasure of reading this year, or maybe ever."
-The Coast

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Customer Reviews

Iris needs a better editor.
Mary Quite Contrary
I like this book a great deal more than I anticipated, thinking it would be a restful somewhat guilty pleasure.
Amelia Gremelspacher
So allow me to add a comparison that conveys the literary merit better.
Craig McMurtry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Castille on March 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This book is a meditation on destructive behaviors in all their variances and glories. Reading about the main character trying to sort herself out was funny, depressing, and frustrating. Be warned, this is not a rehab/recovery book. Throughout much of the book the main character isn't even aware of how severe her self-defeating behaviors are. But I enjoyed every minute of it. The author doesn't bludgeon you to death with PSA's or pity. The plotline isnt continuous, it is vignettes of an unmoored life, and normally that would annoy me to death, but this was very well done.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stella K on August 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I tried to warm up to this book. The first account about the job fair that she attends after graduating college, which I read on Amazon's `Look Inside' feature, lead me to, without any hesitation, put the book into my shopping cart and quickly checkout. A recent college grad, a working girl, generally intellectual, fashion forward and appreciative of good humor - I thought this story would practically be about me. When the book arrived I dove in and found that the first account stood alone. I found the remainder of the book somewhat dark and repetitive. Though alcoholism can be extremely funny, (I'm a recovering addict myself) these stories were not. When I wasn't engaging in side-splitting belly laughs, much of the text left me feeling empty and sad. Perhaps that is the issue I take with the book - it was a bit bipolar. I did trudge through to the end, rooting for Iris - able to do little else. This was not, for me, a page turner - did not compel me by the sheer force of the yarn - it hobbled and backtracked and stagnated. Despite what other reviewers have said, I found little of the story relateable. Twenty-something's, a group of which I am a member, are shown to be whining, floundering, unemployable, uncaring, emotional catastrophes - sure, an often accurate portrayal, but one I resent and one that doesn't make for an interesting read.

I hate to leave things on a negative note, and I know that these are more comments on the story than on the writing, but if you are looking for something happy, I would suggest thinking twice.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By stephen f king on May 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Perfect pitch - an extraordinary read - Iris is a very talented writer - New York as it is - in the eyes of twenty-nothing's or forty-nothing's trying to find relationships that work - trying to find themselves - Snarky Seinfeld with a shot of Bukowski and a load of Jay McInrrney - read it now - hurry.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 13, 2013
Format: Paperback
In an interesting twist, this book an adult book about a young adult. Disingenuous tomes on the perils of life in the big city for twenty somethings are as common as, well, Carrie Bradshaw's shoes. But Iris has a literate twist to her narrative, and in fact has spent much of her search for herself in universities. In fact the author puts us on our notice that even the opening quotes remind us that Dante the poet was not the same as Dante the character who could be quite judgmental of his friends' fate in Hell.

The book works at times with some moving back and forth in time. This common device was a bit confusing at first, but emerges as Iris's own reflection s on the events of her that have shaped her life. Iris is a witty, sometimes sly, and impulsive. The writing is sharp and incisive with the the in depth sex scenes skipped, finally. (They never seem to be as interesting or instructive as the author might think.). The only I reliability of our narrator, is her failure to always understand her main subject, herself. She has cogent, interesting observations about the world around her. One of my favorites are the "baseball caps pulled low in order to fend off the wackiness in others." Another is the mistake of selling one's soul to the devil instead of leasing it. And I found it waggish to compare her boyfriend's intense stare as to be like "(T.J. Eckleburg's advertising contacts" with a tip of the hat to the Great Gatsby.

In fact much of Iris is described using tropes from literature, a quirk I like a great deal about her. I like this book a great deal more than I anticipated, thinking it would be a restful somewhat guilty pleasure. I think this author has pulled off the very difficult act of weaving wit and cogent observations into the description of the struggles of an often self defeating young Iris. I think you will enjoy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Stover on November 22, 2014
Format: Paperback
Norman Mailer, who was my pen pal, gave a talk at The New York Public Library some years ago and I recall him saying, "I detest a well-plotted novel." The language is the story, and Iris Has Free Time is a swan...an elegant, hilarious book that glides. (Of course, it didn't hurt to hear Ms. Smyles read in person...she is a beautiful and powerful and mesmerizing performer.) I love this book, the liquid pace, the relentless observations, what appears to be heartbreaking candor...I bought it for my truly literary friends...the sophisticated ones with a sense of poetry and humor! God, Ms. Smyles can write! Hurry! Next book! My favourite authors are the southerners, of course, but after that, they are the European authors: Proust, Genet, Colette, McCabe. In that sense, Ms. Smyles is a European type, exactly my cup of tea.
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