Female Trouble

While Sex and the City projects the life of the single writer as being flush with designer labels and revolving-door dating, author Janelle Brown keeps things a little more real. Brown’s new novel, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, is set in a nouveau riche Silicon Valley suburb, but her leading ladies grapple with more difficult situations than squeezing into the latest pair of Manolo Blahniks. Margaret Miller is the book’s Carrie Bradshaw — if Carrie were in massive credit card debt after launching a feminist pop culture magazine called Snatch. When her girlfriends hit the town for dinner, Margaret has to count more than calories — splitting the tip alone sinks her into the red. Her grip on relationships is equally tenuous after a humiliating breakup with her Hollywood boyfriend. Man drama is similarly affecting Margaret’s mother Janice and her younger sister Lizzie. Janice snaps after her husband takes off with her tennis partner and she makes an illicit deal with the pool boy, while Lizzie’s flowering sexuality makes her a little too “popular” in school.

All We Ever Wanted is less about spinning a fantasy of the indomitable 21st-century woman, and more about exploring such modern mini-crises as having to ask for help from your parents when you’re an adult. Brown — a respected journalist whose work has appeared in Salon, Vogue, and The New York Times — possesses a witty style that makes the book a quick but substantive read. Sex and the City may be this summer’s guilty pleasure, but All We Ever Wanted is all the fun without the saccharine hangover.
Tue., June 17, 7:30 p.m., 2008

 
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