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Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About: A Novel Paperback – January 14, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Millington's debut novel is an outgrowth of his Web site of the same name, on which he has been posting, for the last year, comic vignettes about life with his German girlfriend. Predictably, it consists mostly of comic bickering between first-person narrator Pel Dalton and his own German girlfriend, the insouciant Ursula Kretenjeger. The couple lives in a ramshackle, dirt-cheap house in "an area of the northeast of England so dire that the government was applying for a grant from the European Union for it to be placed under martial law" with their two young sons. Pel is something of a slacker ("for me, half-heartedness is a full-quarter too hearted"), the bumbling head of an IT team at the local university library. After their house is broken into, the marginally more conventional Ursula insists they look for something in a better neighborhood. House hunting, like most of the other plot turns in the book-which include Pel taking over for his mysteriously vanished boss and becoming the courier for a Chinese gang-is mostly an opportunity for lots of funny sparring on every subject from whose turn it is to defrost the refrigerator to whether "cock" or "dick" is the better euphemism for penis. Overall, the comic material is uneven; some of it is overwritten and a bit obvious, but at its best, Pel's narration is side-splitting. There are no shattering insights about men and women, but the book never pretends to be more than it is: an entertaining and genuinely funny romp through the trials of coupledom.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
The battle of the sexes continues unabated in British author Millington's quirkily comic debut novel. Pel and his German girlfriend, Ursula, have two children and any number of differences between them. He watches a lot of television and so can be depended on to know when Britain declares war on, say, Finland. Ursula is more outgoing and talks to the neighbors a lot, so she knows, for instance, what neighbor is harboring nuclear weapons in the garage. Pel works in the computer section of a library or, more properly, a Learning Centre, which is attached to a shiny new university whose students are recruited by a Japanese crime syndicate. What's more, the new computer lab is being built over the remains of an antediluvian graveyard, which raises the interesting issue of what to do with the bodies. Speaking of which, after a top administrator disappeared a number of years ago (and nobody noticed), her salary has funded many such valuable projects. Students of academic satire such as James Hynes's Lecturer's Tale will find much that might be familiar and funny here. The inevitable comparisons with Nick Hornby shouldn't detract from Millington's unique, laugh-out-loud take on sexual and academic shenanigans. For all large public libraries.
Bob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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In the story Pel has to deal with missing colleagues, paying off illegal deals, and stepping into increasingly larger shoes as more and more work is foisted off on him. Ursula and his kids make things at home similarly wacky and stressful as they deal with moving to a new home, renting out their old one and visits to school counselors.
The story was very funny if you like English humor, and is also very sweet with the love between Pel and Ursula expounded upon and strengthened by the arguments, not in spite of. Pel keeps getting in trouble and it's a bit like watching a train wreck as you read on and continue rooting for him even as the problems keep mounting and it seems there's no way he can get himself out of the trouble he's in.
That's the only reason it lost a star. The ending, while sweet and almost exactly what one would expect, was not a typical "everything turns out right in the end". Which I suppose makes it more real, as things normally don't. But, you can't help being just a teensy bit disappointed. I hear Mil is working on making this into a screenplay. I look forward to seeing it if it ever comes out.
"I jerk myself above the barricade and let rip with laser death at some attackers. One dives behind a box in panic like some kind of silly eight-year-old (admittedly he does look about eight years old) but I catch his companion (who's eleven if he's a day) on the shoulder and take him down."
Tapped to fill his abruptly resigned boss's shoes, Pel finds it harder than usual to feign competence. (He has about as firm a hold on his new responsibilities as Seinfeld's George Costanza did when called upon to handle the Penske file.) Yet Pel might yet keep things under control at work--the requisite meetings with Chinese mafiosi, the disappeared colleagues, the nerve gas and would-be poltergeists--were his home life not so chaotic. Pel lives with his German girlfriend Ursula and their two sons, and virtually every waking moment in their household is filled with the happy couple's bickering. Over every topic imaginable. Happily, their arguing does not arise from a deep-seated problem in their relationship: that would make it difficult reading. Petty arguments are simply their preferred mode of communication, and they do it marvelously.
"Did you hear that?"
"I'm sure I heard the door bang."
"It was probably just a dog somewhere."
"Yes, because--at night--a dog barking is almost indistinguishable from the sound of a door being smashed open, isn't it? Idiot."
"I didn't say a dog _barking_..."
Mil Millington--who, as it happens, lives with his German girlfriend Margret and their two children and who is apparently found wanting by Margret at least as often as Pel disappoints Ursula--is a writer worth watching. Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About is a hilarious, clever read about which I couldn't possibly say enough good things. Just do yourself a favor and buy it--buy it now, I mean--and read it, then get a few copies for your friends. It's really that good.
Reviewed by Debra Hamel, author of Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece
That's a lot of wasted productivity. Must be a reason for it, huh?
Oh yes... if you are a loyal, patriotic American, you may not like the referrences to the US from this British authors viewpoint.. but as your nieghbor and friend up here in Canada, I can tell you he is bang on. (Spot on for you Brits!) And he says disparaging things about Canada too... which are just as true. After all, Britian is the center of the universe to Brits.. and he pokes fun at that too. Nothing is off limits. He is just a riot!
Highly recommended... that you avoid this book! Your work and marriage will suffer.
Most recent customer reviews
I read this book a few years ago and never wrote a review for it.Read more