Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"The Guy Not Taken," by Jennifer Weiner

For a recent long plane trip, I picked up what seemed like a perfect “plane trip book,” Jennifer Weiner’s “The Guy Not Taken: Stories” (Atria, 2006). (I know I have mentioned several books from my "recent plane trip" -- a perfect illustration of what I have written about before: that I always take many books on trips, being afraid I will run out of reading matter several thousand feet in the air....) I have read a couple of Weiner’s other books, so I knew what to expect, and I got what I expected: a book that is accessible, readable, enjoyable, but still at least somewhat “literary,” as opposed to beach reads/chick lit. (I have posted about this fine line before, for example on 2/8/10, 3/17/10, and 9/10/10.) Some of the stories in this volume are connected, sharing characters and history, and some not, but even the ones that are not share similar themes, most notably the after-effects of divorce on families. In an intriguing postscript, Wiener provides a bit of background information on each story and its inspiration and context; one of her main points is that she drew extensively on her experiences with her own parents’ divorce. She also writes about adolescence, sisters, families, starting out one’s career as a young woman in her twenties, romance, affairs, and marriage. These stories combine serious themes with a breezy style, and somehow this combination works well.

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