Thursday, January 24, 2008


Title: Beginner's Greek
Author: James Collins

For a former editor at Time, a contributor to The New Yorker, and a male, this book is absolutely absurd.

The Prologue commences with the story of Peter Russell, the main character, on an airplane flight from NY to LA pondering the possibility that the seat next to him may soon be occupied with the woman he will fall madly, desperately, completely in love with.

Already a bit of a stretch. A man might perhaps contemplate the mile high club, but love? I’ve been informed by a very reliable male source that this is just utter nonsense.

Then, the seat is taken by a young female, and "without even speaking to her, Peter was convinced, he knew for a certainty, he had not the slightest doubt, that he could spend the rest of his life with the young woman who had happened to sit next to him, and it would be blissful."

Now really.

But then they get to talking, and they have fun, and they make a connection, and Holly gives him her phone number.

And he accidentally loses it.

Four or so years later she ends up married to Peter's best friend, Jonathan, a womanizing schmuck. Peter laments his loss for 3 years then decides to move on and marry Charlotte. She's okay, and he likes her most of the time, and they could be happy, so that's good enough for him (and her).

Then, on their wedding night, Jonathan, outside on the golf course shortly after enjoying himself with Charlotte's stepmother, is struck dead by lightning (clearly, getting what he deserved, that womanizing bast- ,er…). Only hours too late for Peter to drop Charlotte and begin his pursuit of Holly. The horror!

Add to this the delicious sub-story of Peter’s job, at which he is extraordinarily successful and thought of very highly. That is, until the day his current boss goes from being buddy buddy and friendlier than any boss on the planet to making an utter fool out Peter - after which said boss gloats and crunches two walnuts gleefully in his bare hands while saying to Peter: “These are your nuts, Russell.”

So does the poor lovesick sap get the girl and keep his job in the end? You’ll have to read to find out (or take a wild guess).

And, despite my mocking of the book, it really was a very entertaining and enjoyable read, just not what I would expect from the author.

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posted by Kate at 5:00 PM


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