April 25, 2017 by carlywont
Alas, my Staycation is over. I’ve been back at work for about five weeks now and even though my job is pretty awesome and super part-time, I’m still logging a lot fewer reading hours. (PS: If you happen to be a badass journalist looking for a fellowship, applications are currently open!)
The last book I read for my Staycation trio, Modern Lovers by Emma Straub, was my favorite of the bunch and probably one of my favorite books I’ve read so far in 2017. (Can’t touch Adam Haslett’s Imagine Me Gone though, sry Straub.)
For some unknown reason, I’ve been following Straub on Instagram for a few years now. Most likely I found her profile after working myself up into some sort of literary follow frenzy. No matter the follow origin, I’ve come to think she’s pretty cool over the years.
For starters, she’s the mom to two boys (like me!) and she’s got mad style (unlike me!). I also have a serious soft spot for writers who open up bookstores (shoutout to Ann Patchett and Parnassus Books). Her bookstore is going to be called Books Are Magic, which I find both adorable and downright true.
There’s also the matter of this completely relatable NYT article about her typical Sunday, in which she uses the word “pancake” as a verb and talks about how her older son needs to read while eating and won’t leave the house (sounds too familiar ….). Plus, she wrote her books while pregnant with each of her kids, which gives me hope for myself.
Yet, despite my obvious friend crush on her, I was hesitant to read her books. I read middling reviews on both The Vacationers and Modern Lovers, which turned me off. And I was not intrigued at all by the description of Modern Lovers (a book about the mid-life crises of washed up band members? No thanks).
But a friend from high school recommended it in my call for Staycation reads, so I went for it. I’m glad I did because reading it was a pretty enjoyable two days of my year so far.
First of all, the book is made for binge reading. There are 71 chapters! With 343 pages, that’s an average chapter length of 4.8 pages. 4.8 pages! Fuck to the yes. If you’re in the mood to fly through something (a characteristic that is the hallmark of a good Staycation read), Modern Lovers is a wonderful option.
I also really liked all of the narrators and storylines in the book. I found each character relatable in his or her own way—Harry with his self-conscious, teenage girl problems; Elizabeth’s embarrassing tendency toward Type-A obsessions; Jane’s solidity and simplicity; Zoe and Ruby’s effortless cool; and Andrew’s angsty fear of getting older.
The book follows each of these characters as they live through separate yet linked crises in their Brooklyn neighborhood. Since I’m always on the verge of a life crisis, I found each of their problems charming and engrossing.
And even though, ostensibly, Modern Lovers has a lot in common with books like The Ramblers and The Nest (e.g.: rich people with rich people problems living in the city), I found it so much more genuine and likeable than those books. It kind of reminded me of The Interestings in a lot of ways. If you’re a fan of Meg Wolitzer (and who isn’t?), read
Modern Lovers and let me know if you agree with my comparison.
So, if you find yourself on a Staycation sometime soon, my recommendation would be to sit down first with Modern Lovers. Blow through that awesome book, then move on to American Wife and finally The Ramblers. Then do as everyone does on Staycation—binge watch crap TV and eat a bag of Doritos.