Love and Happiness

Galt Niederhoffer, Author
Galt Niederhoffer. St. Martin's, $24.99 (288 pages) ISBN 978-0-312-64373-7
Reviewed on: 08/19/2013
Release date: 09/10/2013
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-250-03521-9
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Niederhoffer's third book (after The Romantics) is the story of the effects of twenty-first century curiosity in a mundane marriage. The main character Jean is grinding through her job, trying to raise money for her films, and sagging under the burden of a husband who was once a "vital passionate young man" and is now an "aging, empty vessel." Jean remedies her lifeless marriage by drafting e-mailing to a former flame Doug but never presses send. Then she meets a man named Benjamin Kraft at a bar on a business trip who offers up his number. When he doesn't return her text later on, Jean searches the Internet for him, improbably concluding he is a criminal, maybe a murderer. More and more enticed, Jean hires a private investigator to track him. Ben finally returns her second text and they meet. Niederhoffer delivers pitch-perfect micro-renderings of human behavior throughout: describing "carnivores posing as vegans" in a bar, and "near-misses at wit" during a flirtation. But the strength of the novel is in Niederhoffer's ability to do this on a larger scale. She intricately portrays her dynamic protagonist as slightly unstable and only sort of self-aware. Agent: TKTK, Joy Harris Literary Agency. (Sept.)
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