cover image Good Material

Good Material

Dolly Alderton. Knopf, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-5938-0130-7

Alderton (Everything I Know About Love) delivers a flat anti-love story focused on flailing comedian Andy Dawson and his ex, the “annoyingly loquacious” Jen Bennet. The action kicks off with Andy making a list of justifications for ending the relationship, including Jen’s smugness, snobbery, and childishness. He continues to obsess over Jen during bouts of day-drinking and comedy gigs in London, vacillating between fond memories and frustration. Despite his insecurity about his career and his growing bald spot, his treatment of the breakup is awash in arrogance and selfishness. Over several months, Andy and Jen separately come to terms with the direction their relationship was headed (the latter’s perspective is provided later in the novel). Andy wanted children and to pursue his artistic dreams, while Jen didn’t want a life centered on being a mother or wife. Alderton stitches in attempts at zany humor, such as Andy’s brief stint living on a houseboat and his interactions with his best friend’s children, but the jokes don’t quite land. While the subversion of the typical love story intrigues, the unpalatable characters extinguish its charm. This misses the mark. Agent: Anna Stein, CAA. (Jan.)