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Very Nice I think of Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky as a near perfect book and the only reason I didn't write a perfect book is because it's perfect than perfect like all the most perfect of things it has a fatal flaw or two to keep it interestingAnd then came The Red Car which was almost almost as near perfect as Bad MarieSo it could be just by comparison that I thought this book was just very good After two novels that were wrenchingly feminist in their own uniue fascinating and strangely dysfunctional way this novel seemed to land in a less strange and less marvelous country to my mind I liked the dog That's about it There was no redeeming ualities to any of the characters presented The liberal overtones were completely unnecessary and basically made the characters even ridiculous But maybe that was the point? The dog I liked the dog Rachel Klein never meant to kiss her creative writing professor Zahid Azzam never planned to become a houseguest in his student's sprawling Connecticut home but he does Becca Klein never thought she'd have a love affair so soon after her divorce but when her daughter's professor walks into her home she does and the affair isa very bad idea This novel zigzags between the rarified circles of Manhattan investment banking the achingly self serious MFA programs of the Midwest and the private bedrooms of Connecticut Cringe inducing Every single character is horrendously selfish not a single one of them worth rooting for The story ? is non existent since it's basically just an exploration of people's myopic self centeredness and don't even get me started on that ending ridiculous Dermansky's writing is a bit uneven and in the beginning especially during Rachel's chapters the sentences are stupidly short The only redeeming uality for me was that this was a fast read so I got it over with uickly Call something a literary soap opera and I can't read it fast enough Here is one about sex writing race and politics The lines Dermansky walks are fine and she navigates them expertly with humor and razor sharp insight This is a novel that is insanely addicting and insanely juicy Also sometimes just insane I love it so much While this is certainly a smart book it is probably not the deepest novel ever written still it is great fun and sometimes intelligent fun is than enough to warrant 4 stars Dermansky plays with the discrepancies between self image and the perception of others when she tells the story of a love triangle between a naive young college student her mother and her creative writing professor Told in a linear fashion but from constantly shifting perspectives we learn about the thoughts motivations convenient self deceptions and scheming of the protagonists and we meet and look through the eyes of their social circles At the sidelines the author also reflects and freuently mocks current phenomena and themes from gun laws to corporate culture and it is often hilarious and surprisingly bold Rachel has a crush on Zahid her 36 year old Pakistani professor sleeps with him and agrees to be his dogsitter while he is travelling in exchange for a good grade As it's semester break she takes Princess the poodle along to her mother in Connecticut in order to cheer her up Becca has just been dumped by Rachel's dad for a younger woman and her own poodle has died Of course it doesn't take long before Zahid who is struggling to finish his new novel and to find a new job shows up on the doorstep intrigued by the beautiful house with a pool and a fridge that's always full All three of them have their own agendas and their own side stories and Dermansky does a great job intertwining her narrative threads it might not always be all too plausible but it's always entertaining But this author is at her best when she renders her characters arguing with themselves their inner monologue reflecting how they try to frame the narrative that is their own life Rachel tries to convince herself of a certain idea of Zahid Zahid is trying to convince himself of a certain self image and Becca is trying to find her new role as a single woman or isn't she? And then there is a whole cast of minor characters all of them with distinctive roles and attitudes all of them deeply flawed and very human a wonderful gang of people to hold up the novel and propel the story forward I listened to the audiobook and I put it on every minute I could because this story is truly addictive not related to content but hey That cover is also great I definitely need to read Dermansky I know I probably shouldn't be saying this too loud but I have never read a Marcy Dermansky book before I have read reviews of her work Some of my most keen and thoughtful Goodreads friends have described her previous work as witty defiant buoyant and electric So when I saw this on offer I knew I just had to read it Indeed Very Nice reads like a guilty pleasure that you can devour in one sitting The plot seems simple a lauded author sleeps with one of his students then falls in love with her mother But that's the magic of Dermansky Everything is not what it seems All of her characters are flawed uite unlikable in fact Their lives are painted with a veneer of accomplishment and success but there is so much simmering below the surface Dermansky's prose is constructed with simple short sentences that intricately connect her characters In subtle fashion she deftly weaves politics sexuality gun violence misogyny and racism into a clever and entertaining tale Very Nice is very funny some moments and very dark in others and always very surprising Marcy Dermansky has a fantastic sense of humor and irony but beneath this tale of mothers and daughters and the literary sensation they sleep with is a penetrating examination of the world in which are living 35 starsThis droll novel brings to mind the game 'Six Degrees of Separation' based on the theory that any person on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acuaintances that number five or fewer The characters in this story have only one or two degrees of separation so it's easy to get from A to B to C etc Okay pay close attention nowOne of the main characters in the book is Rachel an undergraduate student at a college in New York City Rachel has crush on her creative writing instructor Zahid Azzam a handsome award winning writer from Pakistan Summer break is about to start and Rachel who's going home to Connecticut has agreed to care for Zahid's standard poodle Princess while the professor goes to Pakistan to be with his dying grandmother Zahid has other troubles as well He's spent the big advance for his second novel and hasn't made much progress on the bookBefore Zahid leaves Rachel seduces him concluding that the mutually enjoyable sex means the professor returns her passion Lovestruck Rachel takes Princess to her family home in Connecticut a lovely large house with a swimming pool As it happens Rachel's mother Becca is living there alone because her beloved standard poodle Posey just died and her not so beloved husband Jonathan recently left her for another woman Becca immediately becomes enthralled with Princess who returns her affection Becca is an elementary school teacher who's off for the summer So she spends her time painting shopping at Whole Foods cooking gourmet meals musing about Hillary Clinton's sad loss and caring for the dog In the meantime Rachel works as a day camp counselor One of Rachel's campers Amelia comes from a troubled family and Rachel gets involved with them than she should Zahid returns from Pakistan after only two weeks because his grandmother died He has nowhere to live now however because he sublet his apartment for the summer Zahid's tenant is a gorgeous black lesbian named Khloe who works as financial analyst for Rachel's father Jonathan Khloe is also a twin sister to writer Kristi the 'burr' who pushes Zahid to get going on his book advance his career etcWhen Khloe's not at work in Jonathan's firm she's drinking in upscale bars and making plans to seduce her childhood babysitter Jane whom she's been in love with since the age of five As it happens Jane is Zahid's new editor and being starstruck by the famous writer likes to go to Khloe's sublet and snoop through Zahid's clothing shoes accessories etc Since Zahid has nowhere to lay his head so to speak he decides to go to Connecticut to visit his dog Princess To make a long story short he stays Zahid finds he's able to make progress on his new book in this environment and he and Becca enjoy eating together; walking the dog together; swimming together; and so on Becca and Zahid embark on a torrid affair while poor oblivious Rachel waits for the professor to sneak into her bedroom at night And waits and waits and waits Meanwhile Jonathan's relationship with his much younger girlfriend Mandy who's an airline pilot isn't going well Jonathan doesn't like living in Mandy's tiny New York apartment and he misses the comforts of home In addition when Jonathan gets sick Mandy doesn't coddle him like Becca would have When Jonathan happens to be in Connecticut he spots Becca and Zahid walking Princess on the beach and thinks that's not okayso he decides to do something about it The novel is narrated in the rotating voices of Rachel Becca Zahid Khloe and Jonathan so we get insight into what each one of them is thinking and doing The characters' motivations and interactions are in turn selfish funny sad disturbing surprising uirky and so on Rachel is the most likable of the bunch since she's honest and the others are deluded about how 'decent' they are All in all an entertaining book with a touch of frivolityYou can read my reviews at Update This is a darn fun reading book Its a 199 special today good deal Turkey avocado sandwiches for lunchNaughty summertime sexcapdes in the swimming poola male novelistwriting Professor behaving badlywealthy suburban life in Connecticut a sexy divorcee a love struck crush creative writing student messy sexy darkly funny shenanigans sharp witty dialogueracial and gay innuendosPrincess Posey the poodle is loved by everyonedeliciously flawed characters etc etc etc “He knelt down and petted his dog He put his face in her poodle hair Oh gosh this man was a mess His eyes were bloodshot His blue shirt was dirty He was carrying a leather backpack that looked expensive He was wearing loafers in the middle of summer Without soaks at least I wondered if that was uncomfortable Posey licked him Again I was struck by the unfairness of it all I felt tears well in my eyes”an ending that had me killed over with laughter DON’T MISS ITFantastic summer time guilty pleasure