Monday, January 11, 2010

The Year of Yes (by Maria Dahvana Headley)

Another "do blah-di-blah for a year and then write about it" book, but I can't help it; these fluffy little books go faster than the giant tomes I am concurrently reading.

At first I was put off by this book a little. The writer is very self-conscious and self-indulgent--her acknowledgments are three pages long, each chapter has a heading and a subheading, and there is tons of literary name dropping. There are also some embarrassingly torturous metaphors. You can tell she wants to be taken seriously as a Writer, when I wish she would just tell her story. From page two, to give you an example:

The noises of NYC had ceased to metamorphose into the hopeful bird trills and tender love songs I'd imagined when I'd first arrived, a year before, and instead sounded like what they were: garbage trucks, honking horns, and the occasional cockroach scuttle. Granted, my last doomed relationship had been significantly more crow than canary, and more Nirvana than Sinatra.

She also name-drops, within the first two pages, Sartre, Kierkegaard, Aeschylus, Wagner, and Dorothy Parker. It is quite frankly exhausting.

When she settles into it (or when I got used to it) I was able to enjoy the story for what it was--an honest and interesting memoir about a year spent saying yes to anyone and everyone who asked her on a date. And ultimately she did seem like a cool, risk-taker type person, who has a good heart, but maybe needs to dial down the Writerly Affectation a little. So I did like it okay in the end. But I have to say I liked Julie & Julia better.


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