I Regret Everything

Seth Greenland. Europa (Penguin, dist.), $16 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-60945-247-6
Jeremy Best, a lawyer by day, also moonlights as a poet under the name Jinx Bell, publishing occasionally (if implausibly) in The Paris Review. Spaulding, a 19-year-old woman who's a fan of Bell's poems, figures out that the writer behind them is Jeremy, who happens to be working in her father's Manhattan law firm. The restless and unpredictable Spaulding playfully pursues Jeremy. In alternating chapters, Jeremy and Spaulding reveal their respective perspectives on the unfolding events, so that readers learn of their private struggles, including a particularly tragic shock for Jeremy he initially tries to keep secret. Greenland (The Angry Buddhist), a former writer for the TV show Big Love, has a clear and snappy handle on the New York City worlds of M.F.A.s, M.F.A. dropouts, and poetry workshops, as well as their counterpoint in the Sutton Place penthouses of Jeremy's wealthy clients. This much is convincing and entertaining early on, though one does question the whole premise, which has been done so many times before: why must the 30-something lawyer find vibrancy and renewal in a teenage girl? As the second half of the novel slides into chaos and Jeremy and Spaulding consummate their relationship, investment in either character becomes tough to maintain. While Greenland is attempting an earnest, serious meditation on love or art or mortality, the book often feels like a silly romantic comedy that can't escape its genre. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/13/2014
Release date: 02/03/2015
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-60945-257-5
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