The Austin Chronicle

Summer Reading

Words gone wild! The best and the breeziest for beating the heat in 2002

By Amanda Eyre Ward, May 31, 2002, Books

There are days in Texas when it's too damn hot to read anything taxing. Luckily, Laura Zigman, author of Dating Big Bird and Animal Husbandry (later adapted as Someone Like You, starring Ashley Judd), offers a breezy new novel just in time for the heat. One of the founding members of the now-ubiquitous "goofy single gal" genre, she doesn't set out to do much in Her (Knopf, $22), the story of a neurotic woman's obsession with her fiancé's former flame. Nonetheless, the book is quick, clever, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. The plot is simple: Elise, the editor of such self-help books as A Gentle Plea for Me and Improving Your Pet's Love Life, is engaged to Donald, busily "taste-testing cakes, canapés, champagnes; sniffing stationery; fondling tulle (or was it toile?)." But just as the holy grail of matrimony is within Elise's reach, Donald's ex-fiancée moves to town. When the horrifyingly gorgeous Adrienne -- who's also recently single and an avid rock climber -- arrives in a fabulous olive-green, faux-pony-skin coat, Elise falls apart. Her jealous meltdown, Adrienne's sultry scheming, and doofy Donald's attempts to pacify the ladies in his life make Her an effort to savor, even as you're wondering whether enjoying it makes you less of a feminist or, incidentally, what makes Donald so great, anyway. It's the literary equivalent of a cold margarita on a hot day: tart, tasty, and finished too soon.

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