The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing

The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing

3.8 126
by Melissa Bank
     
 

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Hailed by critics as the debut of a major literary voice, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing has captivated readers and dominated bestseller lists. Generous-hearted and wickedly insightful, it maps the progress of Jane Rosenal as she sets out on a personal and spirited expedition through the perilous terrain of sex, love, relationships, and the

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Overview

Hailed by critics as the debut of a major literary voice, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing has captivated readers and dominated bestseller lists. Generous-hearted and wickedly insightful, it maps the progress of Jane Rosenal as she sets out on a personal and spirited expedition through the perilous terrain of sex, love, relationships, and the treacherous waters of the workplace. With an unforgettable comic touch, Bank skillfully teases out universal issues, puts a clever, new spin on the mating dance, and captures in perfect pitch what it's like to be a young woman coming of age in America today.

Editorial Reviews

Bitch Magazine
Melissa Bank gets it exactly right: her Jane Rosenal is intelligent, witty, perspective, and moody—and has a lot more her mind than where her next boyfriend is coming from; you could have dinner with her, you could work with her, you could be her.
Jenny Turner
The nicest thing about this book is the epigraphs. There are lots, taken from the advice manuals on which the great American character was built....The stories, however, are less ironic than their epigraphs might suggest. They have a curiously sheltered and olde-world quality, charming in a way, but also odd.
London Review of Books
Cosmopolitan
The summer's best beach book.
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
...[A] charming, funny collection of seven linked fictions....[A]ll the considerable humor of these stories turns on Jane's wonderfully clear sense of the trickiness of language....The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing...[contains] amusing lessons in how to stalk and find...yourself.
The New York Times
Time Magazine
Truly poignant....There is an exquisite honesty to Jane's relationships.
Mademoiselle
Gorgeous and wise.
USA Today
Because Jane is funny and perceptive, the reader willingly goes places with her.
...[Jane] is consistently braving [dating] turmoil with perspective and a sardonic attitude....[W]ithin its final 45 pages...a successful balance of inventiveness, humanity and intelligence is created....[T]hese pages provide the book's most endearing moments.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Banks's debut short story collection about the mixed-up dating life of Jane Rosenal was a hit on the beach-reading circuit this summer. Hearing the author's conviction while she reads her work proves why: there is an uncanny likeness between the writer and her feisty-but-neurotic heroine. Banks plays up this mood by narrating in a quiet, seductive voice--one that nonetheless manages to convey a sense of sustained desperation. The episodes move chronologically, starting with Jane's girl's-eye view of her older brother, Henry, in bumbling action as he dates an older, more sophisticated woman. At age 16, Jane moves in with a great-aunt in her Manhattan apartment, then sees the world through her host's jaded eyes. Later, as a lowly assistant in publishing, she is seduced by an older editor, a super-macho alcoholic who suffers impotence. Banks's gifts of distanced objectivity--as author and reader--dovetail here with stylish panache. Based on the 1999 Viking hardcover. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Bank structures her tongue-in-cheek exploration of relationships by playing off the genre of self-help guides, even including a manual called "How To Meet and Marry Mr. Right" to set her novel's climax. The book is filled with some wonderfully humorous lines and insights as our young heroine, Jane, grows up in bewilderment, lurching from one disastrous affair to another. Yet it suffers terribly from an awkward handling of dialog from the Dick & Jane school of repartee--"he said, she said, I said" litter the conversations. Lorelei King's reading heightens the annoyance at the author's lack of skill. If this audio is meant as parody, Bank doesn't pull it off successfully. It might appeal mostly to female adolescents, but for others the attraction will quickly wear thin.--Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Self
Witty, sparkling.
People Magazine
Refreshingly down-to-earth....A funny fictional report on the dating wars.
The Missouri Review
Most of the stories in The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing revolve around Jane Rosenal and detail her progress in relationships, from her vicarious participation, as an adolescent, in her older brother's love life, through several bittersweet affairs of her own, to a romantic finale when Jane finds her perfect counterpart. One particularly impressive feature of this book is Bank's skill with dialogue. Rather than relying on firstperson musings to push the stories forward, Bank uses lively, often absurd, surprisingly resonant conversations between her characters to keep things moving.
Yahlin Chang
...[C]aptivating...fast and funny with real moments of poignancy....Bank draws exquisite protraits of loneliness, and she can do it in a sentence.
Newsweek
Jenny Turner
The nicest thing about this book is the epigraphs. There are lots, taken from the advice manuals on which the great American character was built....The stories, however, are less ironic than their epigraphs might suggest. They have a curiously sheltered and olde-world quality, charming in a way, but also odd.
London Review of Books
Lisa Schwarzbaum
...[I]rresistible...swinging, funny, and tender...[T]he pre-publication excitement about Girls' Guide is warranted....Bank...fishes deep in her literary debut and hooks a winner.
Entertainment Weekly
Elaine Szewczyk
...[Jane] is consistently braving [dating] turmoil with perspective and a sardonic attitude....[W]ithin is final 45 pages...a successful blanace of inventiveness,human and intelligence is created....[T]hese pages provide the book's most endearing moments.
Book
Janet Steen
If you're a female New Yorker in your thirties with a few romantic blowouts under your belt, you might feel obligated to love Bank's much-buzzed-about, gal-friendly collection of stories: It's the easiest, breeziest summer read to wash up on Manhattan's littered shore in a long time...Bank's strengths lie in her lively pacing and crackling dialogue.
Time Out New York
Kirkus Reviews
A smart, ruefully funny chronicle of a modern young woman's search for love. When we meet Jane Rosenal, she's a wisecracking 14-year-old whose sassy wit keeps the world at bay but also gets the attention of her affectionate yet slightly distant parents. First-novelist Bank creates a dead-on teenage voice from her opening lines, making protagonist Jane both mildly obnoxious and appealingly vulnerable as she relates her efforts to decipher what went wrong between her older brother, Henry, and his upper-crust girlfriend, Julia. In subsequent chapters, the author skillfully allows Jane's narration to evolve as the young girl struggles toward maturity and Mr. Right. When she gets an entry-level job in publishing and becomes involved with a much older editor, Archie Knox, Bank's insightfully nuanced portrait shows Archie helping Jane grow professionally — particularly by guiding her through the treacherous office currents created by a boss subtly determined to keep her down — while keeping a firm upper hand emotionally. When her father reveals he has leukemia, the reserve between parent and child is breached, and the support Jane finds enables her to leave Archie. The final segment wickedly spoofs The Rules and other manipulative man-hunting guides as Jane nearly scares off her Prince Charming by behaving in ways completely alien to her open, candid nature; the satire wears thin after a time, but the finale's warmth all but makes up for it. The novel takes the currently fashionable form of freestanding chapters that read like short stories that just happen to be about the same character. Two of them — a first-person vignette by someone other than Jane; an odd second-personaccount of breast cancer and an excessively devoted boyfriend — don't really fit in, but otherwise Bank's debut is a model of well-crafted narrative building to a thoughtful, hopeful conclusion.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140293241
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/28/2000
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
127,980
Product dimensions:
4.98(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.73(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

My brother's first serious girlfriend was eight years older—twenty-eight to his twenty. Her name was Julia Cathcart, and Henry introduced her to us in early June. They drove from Manhattan down to our cottage in Loveladies, on the New Jersey shore. When his little convertible, his pet, pulled into the driveway, she was behind the wheel. My mother and I were watching from the kitchen window. I said, "He lets her drive his car."

My brother and his girlfriend were dressed alike, baggy white shirts tucked into jeans, except she had a black cashmere sweater over her shoulders.

She had dark eyes, high cheekbones, and beautiful skin, pale, with high coloring in her cheeks like a child with a fever. Her hair was back in a loose ponytail, tied with a piece of lace, and she wore tiny pearl earrings.

I thought maybe she'd look older than Henry, but it was Henry who looked older than Henry. Standing there, he looked like a man. He'd grown a beard, for starters, and had on new wire-rim sunglasses that made him appear more like a bon vivant than a philosophy major between colleges. His hair was longer, and, not yet lightened by the sun, it was the reddish-brown color of an Irish setter.

He gave me a kiss on the cheek, as though he always had.

Then he roughed around with our Airedale, Atlas, while his girlfriend and mother shook hands. They were clasping fingertips, ladylike, smiling as though they were already fond of each other and just waiting for details to fill in why.

Julia turned to me and said, "You must be Janie."

"Most people call me Jane now," I said, making myself sound even younger.

"Jane," she said, possibly in the manner of an adult trying to take a child seriously.

Henry unpacked the car and loaded himself up with everything they'd brought, little bags and big ones, a string tote, and a knapsack.

As he started up the driveway, his girlfriend said, "Do you have the wine, Hank?"

Whoever Hank was, he had it.

Except for bedrooms and the screened-in porch, our house was just one big all-purpose room, and Henry was giving her a jokey tour of it: "This is the living room," he said, gesturing to the sofa; he paused, gestured to it again and said, "This is the den."

Out on the porch, she stretched her legs in front of her—Audrey Hepburn relaxing after dance class. She wore navy espadrilles. I noticed that Henry had on penny Loafers without socks, and he'd inserted a subway token in the slot where the penny belonged.

Julia sipped her ice tea and asked how Loveladies got its name. We didn't know, but Henry said, "It was derived from the Indian name of the founder."

Julia smiled, and asked my mother how long we'd been coming here.

"This is our first year," my mother said.

My father was out playing tennis, and without him present, I felt free to add a subversive, "We used to go to Nantucket."

"Nantucket is lovely," Julia said.

"It is lovely," my mother conceded, but went on to cite drab points in New Jersey's favor, based on its proximity to our house in Philadelphia.

In the last of our New Jersey versus Nantucket debates, I'd argued, forcefully I'd thought, that Camden was even closer. I'd almost added that the trash dump was practically in walking distance, but my father had interrupted.

I could tell he was angry, but he kept his voice even: we could go to the shore all year round, he said, and that would help us to be a closer family.

"Not so far," I said, meaning to add levity.

But my father looked at me with his eyes narrowed, like he wasn't sure I was his daughter after all.

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Meet the Author

Melissa Bank, author of the phenomenal bestseller The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing,   won the 1993 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction. She has published stories in the Chicago Tribune, Zoetrope, The North American Review, Other Voices, and Ascent. Her work has also been heard on "Selected Shorts" on National Public Radio. She holds an MFA from Cornell University and divides her time between New York City and East Hampton.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
October 11, 1960
Place of Birth:
Boston, Massachusetts
Education:
B.A., Hobart William Smith, 1982; M.F.A., Cornell University, 1987

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The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 126 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book started out ok but just got more disconnected and uninteresting as it went. it jumps from different stages in the character's life. i did not like how it was not in chronological order. overall, i would not recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the main character and found the humor fresh and interesting. The short story format did enhance the originality of the piece and I look forward to Ms. Bank's next novel with glee. I hear they are making a film out of the final short story. It will doubtless be interesting to see how they handle the inner dialogue..
lousquared 5 months ago
HATED this book. I'm not one to give up on a book, but that's what I did with this one. Story was going nowhere and was very disjointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have read this book so many times.... still a favorite many years later
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After a few pages i got bored of it. Just to say dont read the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my longtime favorites!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jessicaraya More than 1 year ago
Don't let Bank's spare style fool you. This book is full of deep truths about being young, growing up, falling in and out of love, and all the stupid mistakes we make along the way. I have read Girls' Guide three times now and each time was like coming home to visit your funniest and wisest college friend. If you're a novel lover who don't thinks you don't like short stories, this is really a novel in stories. If you like Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women or Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge, you'll love this book. If you like good writing and characters you wish you could meet for drinks, you'll love this book. Her second book was nowhere near as good as this one--but then if I could write one book like this, I'd be eternally proud and never pick up a pen again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the one of the best books i have read!! One of my Good friends gave me the book and i told her " you know i dont like to read" and she told me "trust me you will like it!" And she was right this book was so good that it changed my mind about reading, anyone can read ,you just need to find a book that is good for you!! <3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1996JN More than 1 year ago
This book was great. I have to admit, i did get a bit confused. Did she end up with robert, ben or archie. The story went back and fourth, so i got lost. I hope jane comes back in a new book. (:
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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songofthestars91 More than 1 year ago
I doubt that I would have ever picked up this book if it wasn't for my Women's Popular Genres class. According to my professor, this novel was one of the first that was labeled as "chick-lit," a term used to describe postfeminist fiction. Or in other words, modern fiction that is written by women for women. I guess I can understand why Bank's witty novel falls under this category (it traces the adult life of Jane, the female protagonist), but I definitely wouldn't call it superficial. On the contrary, Jane deals with issues that go way beyond gaining a few pounds and being dumped by a boyfriend. She is also delightfully humorous, easy to relate to, and worth reading about, if you ask me. But one must take into consideration that I am, in fact, a chick-lit fan. Even so, I must ask myself, was it a story worth remembering? And, unfortunately, the answer is no.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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MCHR More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much, that I do not know how many times I have read it. The series of stories are very touching, regarding different stages of life: from childhood memories to grown-up relationships, looking and finding love, stuggling to make relationships work and sometimes having to let them go. What makes us adults, the road that takes us into adulthood and learning from our mistakes....without a manual. I sometimes read specific chapters instead of the whole book, and always find it moving and true to feelings, hopes and dreams.... that we must never give up even if "reality bites"....
tchrreader More than 1 year ago
I didn't like this book as much as my friends did but it was pretty good and it makes you think. A girl trying to figure out life, ends up dating an older man, going through life, men, etc.
JACk1026 More than 1 year ago
I must admit that this was light and forgettable.