- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reissue edition (May 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140293248
- ISBN-13: 978-0140293241
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 670 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #252,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing Paperback – May 1, 2000
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Jane Rosenal, the narrator of The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, is wise beyond her years. Not that that's saying much--since none of her elders, with the exception of her father, is particularly wise. At the age of 14, Jane watches her brother and his new girlfriend, searching for clues for how to fall in love, but by the end of the summer she's trying to figure out how not to fail in love. At twice that age, Jane quickly internalizes How to Meet and Marry Mr. Right, even though that retro manual is ruining her chances at happiness. In the intervening years, Melissa Bank's heroine struggles at love and work. The former often seems indistinguishable from the latter, and her experiences in book publishing inspire little in the way of affection. As Jane announces in "The Worst Thing a Suburban Girl Could Imagine": "I'd been a rising star at H----- until Mimi Howlett, the new executive editor, decided I was just the lights of an airplane."
Bank's first collection has a beautiful, true arc, and all the sophistication and control her heroine could ever desire. In "The Floating House," Jane and her boyfriend, Jamie, visit his ex-girlfriend in St. Croix, and right from the start she can't stop mimicking her beautiful competitor, in a notably idiotic fashion. "I'm like one of those animals that imitates its predators to survive," she realizes--one of several thousand of Bank's ruefully funny phrases. But even as Jane clowns around, desperately trying to keep up appearances, she is so hyperaware it hurts. Again and again, the author explores the dichotomy between life as it happens and the rehearsed anecdote, the preferred outcome. In The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, even suburban quiet has "nothing to do with peace." Bank's much-anticipated debut merits all its buzz and, more to the point, transcends it. --Kerry Fried --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Banks's debut short story collection about the mixed-up dating life of Jane Rosenal was a hit on the beach-reading circuit this summer. Hearing the author's conviction while she reads her work proves why: there is an uncanny likeness between the writer and her feisty-but-neurotic heroine. Banks plays up this mood by narrating in a quiet, seductive voiceAone that nonetheless manages to convey a sense of sustained desperation. The episodes move chronologically, starting with Jane's girl's-eye view of her older brother, Henry, in bumbling action as he dates an older, more sophisticated woman. At age 16, Jane moves in with a great-aunt in her Manhattan apartment, then sees the world through her host's jaded eyes. Later, as a lowly assistant in publishing, she is seduced by an older editor, a super-macho alcoholic who suffers impotence. Banks's gifts of distanced objectivityAas author and readerAdovetail here with stylish panache. Based on the 1999 Viking hardcover. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
The second-person-voiced chapter on overcoming breast cancer was over my head as a teenager, never having experienced any health problems of my own. I was mostly struck by the unusual shift in narration. Someone who has been through an experience like that will find it incredibly meaningful - and familiar. "Too late, you realize that your body was perfect - every healthy body is."
"The Girls' Guide . . ." is essentially a collection of character sketches rather than a cohesive novel. There's nothing wrong with that per se, however, after reading each vignette (with the exception of the last), I found myself wondering what the author's point was. I never identified with Jane, the protagonist, and found her laugh-out-loud funny only once (although she often reminds us just how funny she thinks she is).
The book also has a seemingly unrelated short story narrated not by Jane, but by an older woman named Nina. I still have no idea what that was about! If I hadn't read other readers' reviews that mentioned it, I almost would have thought there was a glitch when my book was published and another author's chapter got in there by accident.
Given all that, besides "disappointing," if I had to sum up this book in one word, I would have to say, "weird."