Whine Me Dine Me

Run Catch Kiss is the story of how Sohn, I mean Steiner, gathers up enough of a sense of self-worth to ignore the fact that she gets fired from City Week for fabricating columns (a smidge of fiction, since Sohn has held onto her own gig) and embark on writing a book that sounds very much like Run Catch Kiss. Asked about these life- into-art correspondences, the twentysomething Sohn offered this caveat in the New York Post: "I made Ariel fatter than I was. I needed to make her [more of a loser than I am] because I wanted to show how much her life changed when she got this column....Also, I like losers."

And why might that be? The sad truth about this sudden rash of female loser lit is that it invites readers to laugh out loud at women's sore spots (beauty, competence, sleekness) by concocting heroines so damaged that even the most vulnerable reader can't help but feel superior. Gliding along on zesty wisecracks and crisply turned prose, what all these fictions say, in essence, is that women can't really make it unless they self-flagellate, laying bare their neediness and doubt. The work that both the authors and their alter egos do put forth, riddled with dead-end temp jobs, dieting, and the bedding of sadists, holds little real value, anyway, since the gold standard remains snaring a moderately functional man.

Details

The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing
By Melissa Bank
Viking, 274 pp., $23.95
Buy this book

In the Drink
By Kate Christensen
Doubleday, 278 pp., $22.95
Buy this book

Run Catch Kiss
By Amy Sohn
Simon & Schuster, 255 pp., $23
Buy this book

Couldn't just one of these novels have had a woman continue to be stymied by love, but kick major ass in her job? Or had work-world struggles balanced by the pleasures that can be found in a supportive home life? Or introduce us to someone like Anna Shapiro, the protagonist in Sue Margolis's spunky forthcoming novel Neurotica, who, weary of paltry connubial sex, embarks on a series of lusty affairs (postpartum stomach chub be damned), in part to provide ripe material for her high-profile journalism career? It's hard to imagine that the only way for a woman's life to be "funny" is for it to be presented as a series of black holes, where boyfriends and employment utterly fail to provide, and there's nary an exit in sight except cashing in on the misery.

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