Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.: A Novel

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The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is Adelle Waldman’s debut novel, and it’s a spot-on coming-of-age story for our times. The main protagonist is Nathaniel P., a young writer who experiences his first taste of professional success but is still unable to maintain his desired type of personal relationship with a woman. Nathaniel P. is a thoroughly unsympathetic character. He is self-absorbed, shallow, fits a certain Brooklyn stereotype perfectly, and can be downright cruel. But he represents a significant trend in modern relationships, which is what captured my attention in this novel. Walman also offers cutting insight into the common behaviors of women who find themselves paired with such men. Without passing judgment, she offers an unmitigated look at the vicious cycles that can lead relationships to their dismal ends or, in some cases, to depressing stability.

In addition to its more serious, and often downer moments, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. also offers plenty of comic relief. The depictions of Brooklyn hipsters are hilariously correct, and Nathaniel’s inner monologues will make you laugh, even as the next line will often make you cringe. Overall a highly readable work on relationships and some of their modern (and perhaps timeless?) challenges.

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