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Instant Love: Fiction Paperback – April 24, 2007

3.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Attenberg's first novel focuses on the precise moments at which a handful of women fall in love, out of love and back in again: spontaneous Holly; her grounded big sister, Maggie; shy artist Sarah Lee; and a gaggle of their cohorts. Beginning with Holly, 17 years old and working after school at a pharmacy, the novel leapfrogs in time and place, taking us from Holly's crush on her co-worker Shelly's makeup to Maggie's lackluster date with her future husband, Robert, and Sarah Lee's aggravated attempts to overcome her stutter and make a human connection in New York City. Unfolding through several points of view, sometimes to disorienting effect, chapters are broken into short but detailed scenes, yielding a brutally honest story of human relationships that brings together several plot lines. Written in a sparse style that puts Attenberg's background as a journalist to strong use, this funny, perceptive debut earns its hopeful if uncertain ending, giving wisdom to a sentiment as saccharine as one character's belief "that we are the sum of all of the loves before us until we reach our one great love." (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Alternating between the cliché and the brilliantly candid, Attenberg scrutinizes humankinds deepest sentiment through the romantic ups and downs of Sara, Holly, Maggie, and Melanie–seen in girlhood and into womanhood–as each of theses quirky characters searches for a happy ending. Their stories are as much about love lost, unrecognized, or distorted as love found. The self-contained vignettes gradually overlap. Some were published earlier and are now woven together through the interactions of the main characters and their friends in common. Readers feel the loneliness and risks involved when looking for love. It is by no means instant and is often fleeting as each individual ponders that moment when everything changes in a relationship. This honest portrayal will be disorienting for some teens and reassuring to others.–Brigeen Radoicich, Fresno County Office of Education, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (April 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307337839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307337832
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,912,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. A. Rodriguez on July 13, 2007
Format: 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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Format: 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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read it, as in, I did finish it, but here's why: I needed something to read at night, to relax me so I can fall asleep. When I try to read a coherent narrative that has a lot of interesting action and dialogue, I find myself reading past the point of drowsiness and robbing myself of valuable sleep time. This book wasn't at all like that. Not to say it wasn't a decent book with skillful writing, but the way the book is organized, each chapter is like a stand-alone short story, so it's easy to put it down (whether or not it feels like the chapter's plot has resolved itself; that's all you're gonna get. It's over for that storyline) and pick it up again for a whole new chapter/story on the following night. For me, the recurring characters were very nearly unrecognizable from the intervening time between chapters anyway, so much about them had "evolved" from previous mentions.

To be honest, that was pretty much okay with me. It filled the gap at nighttime and I could generally relate to the women's stories of looking for, or trying to evade love. But it was pretty depressing. It's bad enough to have your own romantic struggles, why shoulder through others' hopeless morass of emotional efforts to couple up (or the sad consequences when they do)? That being said, aren't there also some funny romantic episodes in most people's lives? And some endearing ones? Even when breakups are disastrous aren't some lessons learned that make it worth trying again? Don't we all eventually learn so much about our own false expectations and unrealistic perspectives that each heartache is worth it? And in the end, don't we finally work to find not the pseudo-euphoria of young love that lives forever but harmony, growth and peace?
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