cover image Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut: Essays and Observations

Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut: Essays and Observations

Jill Kargman, Morrow, $19.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-06-200719-3

Novelist Kargman (Arm Candy) mines the typical pitfalls of life in New York City and unfortunately only unearths a few gems. Few chronicles of life in Manhattan are complete without a rant about rotten apartments, but "A Letter to My Crappy One-Bedroom" is, surprisingly, one of the highlights. Kargman sheds her colloquial shtick—which begins to grate early as the writing feels less like prose and more like recorded casual conversation—and allows herself an emotional connection to the subject matter. Humor plays an obvious role in Kargman's life and in many of the essays. Sometimes it's spot-on ("Babysitters from Hizznell" and "My Vagina Is the Holland Tunnel"), but at other times it falls flat ("Things That Haunt Me"), often because the subject matter simply isn't anything readers haven't seen before. When she uses humor to serve a larger purpose—such as in "Tumor Humor," when she recounts her diagnosis at age 35 with a rare form of skin cancer and the ensuing surgery to remove the tumor—or even to highlight the wackier moments of motherhood, Kargman is at her best. But she struggles to maintain a steady rhythm throughout a collection that doesn't always deliver. (Feb.)