How to Be a Person in the World: Ask Polly’s Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life

Heather Havrilesky. Doubleday, $25.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-385-54039-1
Havrilesky (Disaster Preparedness), the writer of New York magazine’s popular “Ask Polly” column, provides a wealth of new material on work, love, friendship, and fulfillment, all written in her straight-shooting signature style. She admonishes a writer worried about her eccentricities for her “reductive dichotomies” when comparing herself to others, but also acknowledges that “people are allergic to confessional, outspoken women.” Providing some much-needed real talk to a writer mired in depression, Havrilesky begins, “Reading your letter feels like playing a board game that you can only lose... Draw a ‘Not a Chance in Hell’ card: ‘Advance to Lonely Life Abroad.’ ” She can be devastating, putting a potential bridezilla in her place (“Your dream will not come true”) and verbally eviscerating a man who feels entitled to extramarital affairs (“You’ve been watching too much Mad Men”). She is similarly direct with a woman consistently involved with married men: “You don’t have compassion for other women.” True to its title, this collection touches on nearly every facet of living, and Havrilesky’s wit, intelligence, and candor set her apart as perhaps the best advice columnist currently in circulation. Agent: Sarah Burnes, Gernert Company. (July)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2016
Release date: 07/12/2016
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-101-91158-7
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