Jennifer Weiner's talent shines like never before in this collection of short stories, following the tender, and often hilarious, progress of love and relationships over the course of a lifetime. From a teenager coming to terms with her father's disappearance to a widow accepting two young women into her home, Weiner's eleven stories explore those transformative moments in our every day.
We meet Marlie Davidow, home alone with her new baby late one Friday night, when she wanders onto her ex's online wedding registry and wonders what if she had wound up with the guy not taken. We stumble on Good in Bed's Bruce Guberman, liquored-up and ready for anything on the night of his best friend's bachelor party, until stealing his girlfriend's tiny rat terrier becomes more complicated than he'd planned. We find Jessica Norton listing her beloved New York City apartment in the hope of winning her broker's heart. And we follow an unlikely friendship between two very different new mothers, and the choices that bring them together -- and pull them apart.
The Guy Not Taken demonstrates Weiner's amazing ability to create characters who "feel like they could be your best friend" (Janet Maslin) and to find hope and humor, longing and love in the hidden corners of our common experiences.
This collection of 11 stories written over the past 15 years reads like a series of studies for Weiner's larger chick lit portraits. As in the novels (Goodnight Nobody ;Good in Bed ), smart, acerbic, 30-something women battle dating damage and broken childhoods (absent fathers in particular) in order to build their own families-or to convince themselves they still want to. In "The Wedding Bed," a new bride realizes, "I thought that every story I would tell for the rest of my life will somehow be about this: about the man who left and never came back." "Mother's Hour" tightly focuses on new toddler trauma as experienced by first-time mothers and shows how motherhood can be another conduit for woman-to-woman envy and suspicion. In "Swim," sometime scriptwriter and obsessive swimmer Ruth, her face scarred from the car accident in which her parents died, must eschew the verbal "edge" she finds so compelling in men in order to find love. One roots for Weiner's characters as they come to terms-and in some cases, heal-from disappointment and neglect.(Sept.) Copyright 1997-2005 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 05, 2006
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Excerpt from The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner
Marlie Davidow was not the kind of woman who went looking for trouble. But one Friday night in September, thanks to her own curiosity and the wonders of the Internet, trouble found her.
Her brother Jason and his bride-to-be were registered on WeddingWishes.com. Marlie, housebound with a six-month-old, did all her shopping online, sitting on the beige slipcovered couch where she spent most of her time nursing her baby, or rocking her baby, or trying to get her baby to stop crying. So, on that fateful Friday night after Zeke had finally succumbed to sleep, she wiped the fermented pureed pears off her shirt, set her laptop on the sofa's arm, and pointed and clicked her way through the purchase of a two-hundred-dollar knife set. As she hit "complete order," she wondered about the propriety and potential bad mojo of sending the happy couple knives for their wedding. Too late, she thought, and rubbed her eyes. It was nine o'clock -- a time, prebaby, when a night might just be getting started -- but Drew was still at work, and she was as whipped as if she'd run a marathon.
Just for the hell of it, Marlie typed in her name and reviewed her own choices, feeling wistful as she remembered compiling her wedding registry. She and Drew had made outings of it, having leisurely brunches before driving out to the Macy's in the Paramus Mall to spend hours looking at china and crystal, silver martini shakers and hand-blown margarita glasses from Mexico.
Two years and three months after their wedding, the crystal and the silverware were still in their original boxes in her mother's basement, awaiting the day when she and Drew would move out of their one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side and into a place with a dining room, or at least a little more storage space. The fancy china had been pulled out twice, which corresponded to the number of home-cooked meals Marlie had made since she'd left her job as publicity director for a small theater company in Chelsea to stay home after Zeke was born.
The telephone rang. Marlie picked it up and looked at the caller ID. WebWorx. Which meant Drew. Who was probably calling to say he'd be even later than usual. She nudged the phone under a couch cushion and then, prodded by an impulse she didn't pause to analyze, turned back to her laptop, typed the words Bob Morrison into the "bride/groom" blank, and hit Enter before she could lose her nerve.
Nothing, she thought, as a little hourglass popped up on the screen. Over the last four years, on and off, she'd looked for Bob online, idly typing his name into one search engine or another during down times at work. She never found anything except the same stale handful of links: Bob's name listed as among the finishers in a 5K race he'd run in college; Bob mentioned as one of the survivors in his grandfather's obituary; Bob and a bunch of other graduates of a summer art institute in Long Island. Besides, if Bob ever got married, Marlie figured she'd feel it at some kind of organic, cellular level. After all the time they'd lived together, not to mention all the times they'd slept together, she'd just know.