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I was very excited to start this book as I had read a number of positive reviews, both on this site (and Amazon and Goodreads) and in magazines. In fact, even after reading it I'm inclined to think that I missed something important because I can't understand how anyone could find this book enjoyable.
Our narrator, Nate, is one of the most selfish, snobbish, unlikable narrators I've ever come across. I don't always have to like the narrator of a story (Dorian Gray anyone?) but listening to Nate complain about his life and his lack of respect for pretty much every woman in his life for eight and a half hours--or 250 pages--was like sitting next to someone on the train that just won't shut up. He was like a self-indulgent child that couldn't understand why everything in his life wasn't perfect and gets bored with everything that is. This was probably the point of the book, I realize. But for me to enjoy a book about someone like this, there has to be some redeeming quality in the narrator or some interesting secondary character. There was not.
The plot of the book largely follows Nate's relationship with a new girl, Hannah. To give some background, he has a pretty dysfunctional romantic history. Though it's never explicitly stated, he doesn't seem to consider women his intellectual equals. For maybe the first month of their relationship, the story is very sweet. I found myself hoping that the point of the story was that people can change, that basic human kindness can be found in even the most unlikely of hosts. But then everything starts to deteriorate. I hated Nate for the way he treated Hannah--and women in general. I hated Hannah for being a smart woman and putting up with such a prick. The secondary characters are all caricatures--the Harvard playboy who only dates beautiful women, the bitter intellectual woman who is obsessed with marriage, the slutty damaged girl that every man is fascinated with, even the immigrant parents who came to America to give their son a better life. And I didn't care one way or another what happened to any of them.
I was miserable almost the entire time I read this book. It seemed to be a dreary, hopeless look at the death of romance and human decency in favor of pseudo-intellectual snobbery. (The narrator repeatedly mentions wanting to date a girl who has read Svevo and other hipster-obscure authors.) If you're in the mood to read something that makes you hate relationships or want to feel very smart, this is probably the book for you. Otherwise, skip it.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
No, I would hope my friends could read it in print. The narrator was awful - whiny, nasal and boring as hell.
What other book might you compare The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. to and why?
Perhaps the Ivy Chronicles.
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Nick Podehl?
A woman. A good British male reader. This guy is just awful.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I laughed when I was not annoyed by the horrible reader.
Any additional comments?
It makes me sad that an excellent debut novel could be ruined by such a bad and clueless reader. That guy is so bad I will never listen to any book he narrates. I would leave the train carriage if he sat next to me and I had to hear him speak. Why do so many American readers think they are actors and over-act? Truly trying and more than a bit annoying. This is why I mostly listen only to British novels, but keep trying to find good american ones. Hard, given the readers.
8 of 11 people found this review helpful