- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (July 16, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805097457
- ISBN-13: 978-0805097450
- Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 304 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.: A Novel Hardcover – July 16, 2013
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In this sharply written first novel, Waldman homes in on a self-absorbed writer living in New York City. Nate Piven is still basking in the glow of having sold his first book after years of struggling to support himself with freelance work. His newfound success has given his love life a boost, and a number of women are pursuing him, including his beautiful ex-girlfriend Elisa and brainy Hannah, also a writer. As Hannah and Nate’s relationship gets more serious, Nate is quick to blame any communication snafus on Hannah, whose calm and self-confidence begin to evaporate. Although Nate thinks of himself as enlightened, a product of a postfeminist, 1980s childhood and a politically correct, 1990s college education, his actions continually belie that self-image. Nate is constantly jockeying for status among his friends and critiquing women’s bodies, clothes, and looks even as he tries to figure out why his relationships never last. The novel is most likely to appeal to twentysomethings, who will no doubt recognize the preening male so thoroughly skewered here, but older readers may be put off by such an unlikable lead character. --Joanne Wilkinson
I inhaled this slim novel; now, I want to go back and read it again, to savor Waldman's mordant take on work, love and cannibalism among the up-and-coming Brooklyn intelligentsia . "The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P." is a sharp and assured tale about a sharp and assured young man, who often acts like a dog. "Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air"
Waldman's brilliant taxonomy of "homo erectus brooklynitis." I'm making [my daughter] read "The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. "in exchange for paying off her student loans. Not that she'll need much persuading . Neither chick lit nor lad lit, "The Love Affairs.".. attains something like the universal truths an older female writer articulated by recording the antics of a group of genteel folk in early 19th-century Bath. "Ron Charles, The Washington Post"
[A] pitch-perfect debut In the demure tradition of the comedy of manners, Ms. Waldman is rarely mocking or mean-spirited.... A comic performance you shouldn't miss. "The Wall Street Journal"
A smart, engaging 21st-century comedy of manners in which the debut novelist Adelle Waldman crawls convincingly around inside the head of one Nathaniel (Nate) Piven. Jess Walter, "The New York Times Book Review"
Incisive and very funny This is an impressive book, full of sharp and amusing observations about urban life, liberal pieties and modern dating . Though Nate has an archetypal quality Ms. Waldman has skillfully rendered him both fascinating and sympathetic. He is a man of his age, though his strengths and weaknesses are timeless. "The Economist"
Fiendishly readable Most importantly, Waldman gets the big detail right: When it comes to women, Nate's "clamorous conscience" comes into conflict with the exercise of his natural advantages as a single, successful, attractive heterosexual man in a sexual economy that, for him, is very much a buyer's market . He is misogynistic and ashamed of his misogyny. "Marc Tracy, The New Republic"
While Lena Duham's TV series "Girls "and Noah Baumbach's film "Frances Ha "have reaffirmed Brooklyn's status as the capital of hipster cool, Waldman's debut novel offers a more critical look at the district's arty milieu... This is brilliantly observed stuff. "David Evans, Financial Times (London)"
Every so often... a novel comes along that actually deserves the hype. Adelle Waldman's outstanding debut is one of these.... It fixes for all time on the page a very particular type of man-- the contemporary up-and-coming literary intellectual..... Psychologically astute, subtle, funny and whip-smart, this is a novel that anyone interested in how we live now should read.... With the insinuating sharpness of a stiletto blade, Waldman opens up Nate's interior to show us the mess inside.... The level of insight is bracing... On every page of "The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P "there is something that gives pleasure-- the prose is razor-sharp, the characters in all their pretentions are lovingly skewered. This month's hot novel it may be, but this is a book that will bear repeated readings; funny, angry, subtle and sad, it is the debut of a novelist who's already the real, achieved thing. Highly recommended. "The Sunday Business Post (London)"
Although the novel is about his love affairs in Brooklyn, this is really a novel that reveals--astutely--how Nate thinks . The book is an exacting character study and Waldman an excellent and witty prose stylist . [Nate] is a frog in a wax tray, sliced open and pinned back, his innermost private thoughts on display for inspection by the reader . One must read the magical ending to understand that although his thoughts on women will leave many outraged, his dissected frog's heart still beats. "Jennifer Gilmore, Los Angeles Times"
The Brooklyn novel achieves full maturity with "The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.," Adelle Waldman's enormously enjoyable debut. "Telegraph (UK)"
Like a contemporary Jane Austen, Adelle Waldman unpacks every nuance of modern mating mores in her debut novel, "The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P."... Bravo to Adelle Waldman for getting inside the psyche of Homo erectus literaticus, and for not making it as easy as it should be to hate him. "The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P." is good, evil fun. "Marion Winik, Newsday"
Waldman has written a book of stately revenge, exposing all that is shallow and oblivious about Nate, and men like him. But it s also a book of beautifully modulated sympathy for men as well as women. . . .With her eye for social folly in the streets and restaurants of New York, Waldman resembles Edith Wharton. "Sasha Weiss, NewYorker.com"
A funny and surprisingly sympathetic examination of the romantic sociopathy of youthful litterateurs Waldman captures smart-enough literary party patter so well that many of her readers may find themselves squirming in hot-faced recognition Placed throughout the novel, however, are callbacks to the social literature of the nineteenth century--to George Eliot's work in particular.... "Harper's Magazine"
So much truth in "Nathaniel P." that I just can't stop reading it. Oh, it's one hot book . We read fiction for truth. And it's there in "Nathaniel P ." This is a guy's book. You might classify it as chick lit. You might think it's too narrow, about the Brooklyn literary scene. But the personal is universal. And there's a lot of personal in "Nathaniel P." And the only thing that matters is the personal . Read this book. "Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter"
A fabulous book It's really great . This is such a modern portrait. This guy will be so utterly recognizable to all of us and it's very subtle and I just think a wonderfully written book. I recommend you all get it. "Hanna Rosin, Slate DoubleX Gabfest"
Smart and enthralling Waldman's achievement isn't to glorify so much as to dissect, with an uncommonly sharp eye, a minor romantic failure in all its contemporary complexity and evanescent significance. "San Francisco Chronicle"
[Written] with courage and determination and more than a little bit of moxie. "Baltimore Sun"
[T]hose who pass on "Nathaniel P." will . . . likely be dating themselves, especially if they're still using Nick Hornby or, worse, John Updike as a guide to the modern male psyche. . . . "The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)"
Early readers of this novel have already started arguing about how unlikable Piven is, but there's no debating Waldman's success in etching such a fine portrait. "Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel"
We have lately heard ad infinitum the new sensitive literary man's account of his life and times... what we haven't yet heard enough of is the smart literary woman's view of him. With Adelle Waldman's funny, provocative satire we have a valuable new anthropology of the type.... [An] excellent funny novel. "Katie Roiphe, Slate"
[A] provocative debut novel... A discomfitingly thrilling read. "L. V. Anderson, Slate"
Waldman is a staggeringly talented prose stylist, easy and elegant in every particular, learned, undeceived, and with a dash of sly, quiet humor in nearly every line... "The Aw"
This is Waldman's debut, but she brings Franzen-level domestic chaos a magnificent trick of making distant experiences feel like familiar heartaches. "Grantland"
I basically stayed on the couch for an entire day reading it; I was that riveted by Waldman's ability to get into the brain of Nate Piven. "Mary Pols, MSN Page-Turner"
[This] lovable antihero quickly becomes irresistible to us. . . The upshot: a thoroughly, hilariously of-the-moment tale that marvelously captures what it's really like to be young, smart, and looking for love in the big city--from a new writer to watch. "Elle Magazine"
A must-read if you've ever dated. "Glamour (Aug 2013)"
Easily summer's most buzzed-about debut. "Megan O'Grady, Vogue.com"
An honest look inside the head of thirtysomething Nate Piven. It'll have you screaming because you've "so" dated this guy. "Glamour Magazine, "The 20 Next Big Things""
Reminiscent of classic realist novels from authors like Graham Greene or Henry James, this delightful debut jumps headfirst into the mind of one man, revealing what he really thinks about women, dating and success. "Megan Fishmann, Bookpage"
Written from a dude's POV, this big-hearted yet brutally honest novel about finding love in a big city is a major eye-opener. "Cosmopolitan Magazine"
"The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P." [is] a hilariously astute portrait of a hopelessly self-obsessed Brooklyn writer as a sad young literary man, a Peter Pan for a new, deeply ironic millennium. "Vogue"
The characters that populate Waldman's world are artistic, creative, funny and intelligent--except when it comes to matters of the heart. "Kirkus"
An acute study of present-day struggles with intimacy [Waldman] navigates the male psyche and a highly entertaining hipster mindset, and sneaks in an unexpected, understated ending that brings a satisfying poignancy. "Publishers Weekly"
[A] sharply written first novel. "Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist"
Waldman takes a cliche and turns it on its ear. "Julie Elliott, Library Journal""
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Taken at his own valuation, Nathaniel Piven is a sensitive, highly intelligent, intellectually ambitious Harvard grad in his early 30s, about to publish his first novel. He is dimly aware that he is also in the process of establishing a reputation as a cad among the datable Brooklyn females in his refined publishing circle ("Nate had a long and intimate relationship with guilt"). He nonetheless rationalizes his fickle and self-serving treatment of the several pretty young women in his life ("He had learned all about male privilege. Moreover he was in possession of a functional and frankly rather clamorous conscience") because he is more or less "honest" with them and doesn't treat them with out-and-out sexist disdain.
The loving detail Waldman lavishes on her characters' romantic aspirations and entanglements, on their picnics, coffee dates, and dinner parties--and on every veer and turn of their inner lives puts one in mind of Jane Austen. But for Austen (and her followers) there was always a moment of recognition and reversal. Not so for Mr. P. Nate sadly does not grow much in the course of the novel, and so ultimately the narrative, while it is wonderfully naturalistic in charting the rise and fall of a relationship, begins to feel a bit like a room that has grown stuffy. The dialogue too can feel a little tired; what passes as witty repartee is less sparkling than the characters seem to realize.
Still, this is a successful book. Despite his flaws, one does come to care about Nate--and Waldman's rigorous and imaginative animation of his viewpoint is indeed a tour de force.
It goes without saying that members of this urbane set are well educated, well read, witty, informed, etc, but that is only for starters. Potential partners are subjected to withering scrutiny: the slightest flaw, whether it be looks, speech, dress, mannerisms, and the like, can quickly downgrade one's desirability. The game is played by all: males and females. However, money and/or success can be a trump card. In fact, Nathan, already known for "intellectual cachet," with a book soon to be published, increasingly gets attention and suggestive smiles at social events. But his newfound attractiveness seems to only make his life more complicated.
The author truly gets into the thinking of Nathan as he constantly evaluates and reevaluates his work, his current relationships, and his future course of action. It seems that he is incapable of truly being happy. The women that he has relationships with are an incredible bunch: cool, sexy, smart, independent, and supportive - what more could he want. Yet he cannot avoid the aforementioned pickiness, even with "perfect" Hannah. He sees himself undermining relationships for no justifiable reasons; and his women are helpless against his neurotic behavior.
Although there are numerous semi-long introspective passages, the book is fascinating in attempting to capture what makes this crowd tick. Overall, the author's writing is very engaging. Her focus is on Nathan, but it is being suggested that his tormented behavior is hardly unique. One can possibly see that female readers could have a problem with the author's characterization of women. If a chick is going to make it in this world, she had best be smart, but also hot and able to project sexiness in some manner. All of the characterizations are probably overstated, but the world the author describes seems like fun, if one can qualify - a big if.