Tag: New York Literary Scene

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman

Posted May 23, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 3 Comments

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle WaldmanTitle: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P (Goodreads)
Author: Adelle Waldman
Published: Henry Holt and Co., 2013
Pages: 256
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: ARC from Netgalley

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

When I first started reading Adelle Waldman’s debut novel The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, my first thoughts were that this is Sex in the City from a male perspective. To some extent my first impressions weren’t far off, that is not to say this isn’t a great novel. If you want a modern novel about the dating world then this is the one for you. Nate Piven is a Brooklynite about to blast into the literary scene; that is to say, his novel is about to be published and in his circles that is all that matters.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P is a study into the dating life of, you guessed it, Nate Piven. He is a pretentious misogynist asshole, with a terrible track record when it comes to women. Nate suddenly finds himself with options; his gorgeous ex-girlfriend, a business reporter and a smart, intelligent nice girl. You can probably guess how this novel plays out; Waldman’s plot is far from perfect and sometimes predicable but that is not the reason to read her book in the first place.

The novel is an exploration into the modern dating world as well as a glimpse into the New York literary scene. Adelle Waldman does an amazing job exploring the dating scene and the modern man. She gets the male voice almost perfect, a little clichéd but maybe that is just how man are. I can’t help but get frustrated at Nate, I found myself wanting to yell, “Use your words” at the page multiple times. It can be infuriating to see all the stupid mistakes he keeps making but the journey makes for a great novel.

I don’t want to be picky but the characters in The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P were predominantly white and that felt like a bit of a problem. I always think of New York City as a diverse city, the literary world may not be as diverse but there is diversity in it, however this felt more like the TV representation of New York. In fact this novel felt so much like it was written in the hopes that it could be converted into a TV show or movie, I almost expected there to be a ‘token black guy’. I don’t think it would have taken much effort to add some diversity into the novel; I would have been happy if they mentioned one character being African American, Asian American or anything just to add a touch of multiculturalism into the book. I don’t know why I care about the diversity in this novel more than others; I think I enjoyed it so much I was just looking for flaws.

Reading about the dating life of Nate, you get a sense of his psychology. His attitude towards women, his complicated relationship with his parents, his fear of commitment and his complacency in a relationship; it all felt so real. The kind of thoughts that I remember having when I was younger, the modern men’s struggles to get their lives together, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P seemed to really get this right.

Despite the flaws in the novel, I was really impressed; Adelle Waldman’s debut novel really got the modern dating world right. Well, I’m old and married now but it was how I imagine it would be like out there for a single person. Nate’s friend Aurit’s got it right, “We might as well be on fucking Sex and the City”. I’m sure a younger person might compare this novel to something like Girls but if you are looking for a novel about dating you should check out The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.  I especially enjoyed all the bookish conversations in this novel, which always makes a novel better.