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The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing Paperback – May 1 2000
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Jane Rosenal, the narrator of The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, is wise beyond her years. Not that that's saying much--since none of her elders, with the exception of her father, is particularly wise. At the age of 14, Jane watches her brother and his new girlfriend, searching for clues for how to fall in love, but by the end of the summer she's trying to figure out how not to fail in love. At twice that age, Jane quickly internalizes How to Meet and Marry Mr. Right, even though that retro manual is ruining her chances at happiness. In the intervening years, Melissa Bank's heroine struggles at love and work. The former often seems indistinguishable from the latter, and her experiences in book publishing inspire little in the way of affection. As Jane announces in "The Worst Thing a Suburban Girl Could Imagine": "I'd been a rising star at H----- until Mimi Howlett, the new executive editor, decided I was just the lights of an airplane."
Bank's first collection has a beautiful, true arc, and all the sophistication and control her heroine could ever desire. In "The Floating House," Jane and her boyfriend, Jamie, visit his ex-girlfriend in St. Croix, and right from the start she can't stop mimicking her beautiful competitor, in a notably idiotic fashion. "I'm like one of those animals that imitates its predators to survive," she realizes--one of several thousand of Bank's ruefully funny phrases. But even as Jane clowns around, desperately trying to keep up appearances, she is so hyperaware it hurts. Again and again, the author explores the dichotomy between life as it happens and the rehearsed anecdote, the preferred outcome. In The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, even suburban quiet has "nothing to do with peace." Bank's much-anticipated debut merits all its buzz and, more to the point, transcends it. --Kerry Fried --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
This is one of those rare occasions when a highly touted book fulfills the excitement and the major money (in this case, $275,000) surrounding its acquisition. Reading her debut collection of seven tightly interlinked stories featuring (with one exception) heroine Jane Rosenal, one marvels at Bank's assured control of her material, her witty, distinctive voice and her ability to find comedy, pathos and drama in ordinary lives without resorting to the twin crutches of dysfunctional families and sexual abuse that seem to prop up much current fiction. Jane is notable above all for her smart, irreverent sense of humor, evidenced in a typical teenager's mocking attitude when we first meet her at age 14, and irrepressibly sardonic and self-deprecating as she gets older, enters and leaves relationships and progressively doubts her ability to inspire or recognize romantic love. From girlhood, Jane is bewildered by the nuances of adult behavior, which seems like a secret code evident to everyone but her: "I should know this already" is her recurrent lament. She looks for insights everywhere: in her fickle brother's succession of girlfriends, in her parents' affectionate (but, as it turns out, secretive) marital bond, in the attractions between other couples. From her childhood in a Philadelphia suburb and the Jersey shore to her adult life in Manhattan (with visits to St. Croix and upstate New York), she is always testing the limits of her understanding and tending to doubt her perceptions. Though Jane is quick with a quip, she's sensitive and vulnerable, and when she finds herself falling for a handsome editor 28 years her senior, she knows she is out of her depth. Eventually, we follow Jane through several failed love affairs; career crises in publishing (a chapter about a viperish female editor is a gem) and advertising; the wrenching deaths of loved ones; and increasing fears that she'll never learn to play the mating game. By the time readers reach the final, title story, they'll be so firmly attached to self-doubting Jane that they'll track her misguided seduction of Mr. Right with drawn breath. "Beautiful and funny and sad and true" (to quote Jane), this book is also phenomenally good. Agent, Molly Friedrich at Aaron Priest. First serial to Cosmopolitan and Zoetrope; BOMC and QPB alternates; Penguin audio; author tour; foreign rights sold in the U.K., Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Holland, Norway and Denmark. (June) FYI: Bank is writing the screenplay of this book for Francis Ford Coppola and Zoetrope studios.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was *very* pleasantly surprised. This collection of memoirs of a 'typical' average American woman reminds me of Sartre's "Age of Reason" ~ a tragic life lived with hopeless purpose in the search of the 'unknown' (reason, love, meaning). It doesn't preach and hand out lessons, it simply walks us through The Life Of.
I am annoyed at the senselessness of most of the derogatory comments on Amazon: "It isn't horribly written, it just doesn't spark interest". If anyone is a harsh critic on literary style, it's me! And this book was NOT by any standards badly written. It flows beautifully, it is not presumptuous, does not feel contrived; most importantly: it's Honest. Another reader says they were "thoroughly disappointed with the pathetic nature of the main character" -- what are you going to tell me next? That Sartre's Mathieu is a pathetic creature for not living life with the given American 'purpose'? Spare your comments, please, unless you have something substantial to say! The 'pathetic nature' of this main character is NOT a Flaw of the book; it is its CORE; the essence of (most) humans is this 'helplessness', the need for approval, the want of Love. The character is not Weak because she searches for these essentials, she is Strong for trudging on the journey so courageously.
And finally, ... 3 stars is a high rating for me -- I certainly plan on looking up Melissa Bank again on a future library visit.
I give this three stars as a book because it's a collection of shorts stories, some of which are better than others. In fact 'The Girl's Guide...' is a string of seven short stories, all of which, save one, revolve around Jane finding love - good, bad, and ugly. The one unconnected story breaks the clean lines in an otherwise consistent block of work; simply, I would have left it out.
Jane is likeable for her observances, humility and humour. (I imagine much like Bank). She's honest about her flaws, constantly poking fun at herself and her struggle to find a relationship that is both accessible and healthy. Her feelings of inadequacy at love run parallel in her career. She is an unhappy book editor, describing a manuscript called 'The Deep South' as follows: "The prose was dense and poetic; it was like reading illegible handwriting, and after a few pages my eyes were just going left to right, word to word, not reading at all," (page 135). I read that line thinking, "That's 'Admission'!" If Bank writes with the same brand of authentic, clever humour in her other works, I'll have to check them out.
As a male, I happened to like "The Girls' Guide." My girlfriend, on the other hand, did not. "Chick lit" this is not. True, most readers are probably women, but that doesn't make it genre fiction - something that is tied to certain rules of plot instead of just good character development.
With the exception of the last story, the author's focus isn't on creating the mandatory happy ending. No, Bank wants to show the whole silliness of dating and mating from a specific perspective - that of the sarcastic and funny Jane. For the most part it works. However, as others have pointed out, there's just a little bit too much wittiness to go around. Too many of the characters are as smart and funny as Jane.
When it comes to the men Bank plays it straight. Which is as it should be. You know you're in la-la land when an author takes sides and manipulates the story so that all the men or all the women are good or bad. (Example: Emerald City : Stories by Jennifer Egan.) You get a taste of both here. It's realistic.
As for the last story, I happen to like it because it's so true. The sexist "rules" that cause certain men to be attracted to women are based on faulty logic. Do you just want to get married - to anyone? Then the "rules" work. If you want to meet someone you truly love, be yourself. Simplistic, but true. And something that a lot of readers, especially women, need to know.
Most recent customer reviews
I put off buying this book because I associated it with "chick lit" (maybe it is chick lit, but as it should be). Read morePublished on Aug. 3 2011 by onlygoodbooksplease
Ok- I've been reading the other reviews and I think there is a conspiracy going on here. I'm pretty sure Melissa Banks has friends she pays to write glowing prose about the... Read morePublished on Aug. 6 2007 by Susan A. Carr
i ponied up the $16 to buy this book in hard cover maybe a month or so after it came out...
as a collection of short stories it does its job - it's entertaining at times, slow... Read more
I started reading this book almost by default and it irritated me no end (I never finished it). The author is just trying to sound like J.D. Read morePublished on July 10 2004
"The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing" is a well-written collection of short stories about the emotional hardships felt by young women in America, mostly involving... Read morePublished on July 8 2004 by lazza
I liked this book. I liked the quirkiness and honesty of Jane, the main character and narrator. I also like her sense of humor and the perspective she provided on womanhood,... Read morePublished on July 2 2004
This is a great book of stories that could easily stand alone, but published together in one great book they make for a wonderful read about Jane Rosenal's life- who she is, and... Read morePublished on June 30 2004 by Amy