…we’ve been killing some pretty serious couch time reading new contemporary adult fiction–Christine Son’s Off the Menu–today. And while we don’t frequently partake in the medium-sized print and expressive, decorated dialogue of most CAF (Disclaimer: we’ve both admittedly read Amy Tan’s opus The Joy Luck Club, and I openly wept while taking in Nicholas Sparks awesomely bad The Notebook on the beach in Puerto Vallarta), we couldn’t help but wonder what would come of Son, a Bible-belt Texasian (sounds like Jen!) who has done her parents proud by going to law school (sounds like my sister!) but has always dreamed of writing clever banter between friends and lovers (sounds like me!)–when she actually went for it and wrote a goddamn novel.
Some of it’s to be expected–Son’s primary character is an overworked, Texasian female lawyer who’s billing too many hours and dreams of ditching it all for a music career (as my grandma would say to my cousin, the music major: “Piano, painting, writing… it’s all the same. What kind of job are you going to get? Best to become doctor”). Her two closest friends are, similarly, well-achieved but secretly unhappy and want of something more. Sure, the prose isn’t Didion’s (but even Didion’s fiction was dreck compared to her genius non-fiction)–the author is seemingly obsessed with her characters’ cheeks, stilettos, and the zaftig chef character conveyed as explicitly, repeatedly, bang-you-over-the head fat.
But some of it’s kind of delicious, like family members in NASA, Hardass Asian Parents spouting perfect English, and frequent pepperings of the word y’all. And for its part, Off the Menu has kept tons of things off of my mind during the too-long free hours of this holiday weekend (like bills, work, anxiety about failure, and Mumbai)–so it must be doing something right.
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