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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 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 ...
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.
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.
Melissa Bank: Great!
Melissa Bank: Not really, or not consistently. I think I was more a visual person, or more visual then verbal. I drew a lot and didn't write that much.
Melissa Bank: Thrilling!
Melissa Bank: I am so glad you like my book. I took some courses at Columbia, after college, although I wish I went to college at Columbia. And they inspired me to go to Cornell for an MFA. Classic writers and books? ANNA KARENINA by Tolstoy. I also learned a lot from Hemingway's THE SUN ALSO RISES and Fitzgerald's THE GREAT GATSBY. Contemporary authors that I admire: Nick Hornby; I like Pam Houston; Elizabeth McCracken; and I love Tobias Wolfe's work, though it is a kind of writing that for some reason makes me feel like I am not a very good writer. And also I love Richard Ford's book ROCK SPRINGS -- I know he is better known for THE SPORTSWRITER and INDEPENDENCE DAY, which are also great books, but the one I love is ROCK SPRINGS.
Melissa Bank: Yes. This is a Cinderella story. I watched while all of my friends in graduate school got their books published -- book after book after book. And I did feel like the loser in the class, or the loser in the group. But at a certain point I decided not to send out stories any more and just concentrate on the writing itself. So I devoted myself just to this as a book and thought less of it as individual stories. I sent a few stories to Zoetrope, and the editor in chief, Adrienne Brodeur, commissioned a story for me, and I decided that would be the story that completed the book. For some reason, that story -- which turned out to be the title story -- got a lot of buzz, even before it was published. Agents started coming to me, and I wasn't sure it was a book yet and didn't want to be rushed. After all, I had waited a long time, and I really wanted it to be the best it could be. By a long time, I mean ten years. I decided to give it to an agent, Molly Friedrich, whom I had worked with after college. She was a friend, and I really trusted her. I wrote her a note that said, "I wish this were a finished book. I also wish I were 5 feet 11 and had the love of a good man." She called me a few days later, told me she loved the book and wanted to represent me, and that afternoon sent the book to a dozen publishers. The next day, most of them wanted to buy the book. So she held an auction, and I got really, really lucky.
Melissa Bank: The title I came up with when Zoetrope didn't like my first title, and they were trying to come up with one themselves. It sent me into a panic, and a few minutes later the title just came to me. As far as the jacket goes, others came before it, and it was hard to turn them down, even though I didn't think they were right, because Viking wanted so much to please me and I wanted to please them, but in the end, I think we are all thrilled with the cover. I think it really captures the spirit of the book.
Melissa Bank: Neither. I would say the overall story I was trying to tell dictated the form. I was after a kind of realism, and I think I wanted it to be like the stories we tell each other, which are more episodic. We talk about the critical moments in our lives, but I would be lying if I said I planned anything or had anything in mind. I am one of those writers whose subconscious does the work, and I try to get out of the way.
Melissa Bank: It is hard to think of myself as the new voice of anything. But I consider myself a feminist as it used to be understood as a humanitarian.
Melissa Bank: I never dated an older editor, but every emotion in the book is true. I'm really happy that people seem to believe it is autobiographical. I want it to read that way, though it is Jane's autobiography and not mine.
Melissa Bank: I am on tour right now. Atlanta? Not that I know of....
Melissa Bank: Thanks, Paula! I was rejected everywhere, everywhere. I kept myself going by teaching myself to enjoy writing -- the process of it -- and not hope for what it might bring. Generally when I would get a rejection, or an armful of rejections, I would head straight to the work table; writing was the only thing that made me feel better.
Melissa Bank: I may have to. I miss her.
Melissa Bank: I think BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY is a really good book, but I don't think our books have much in common. If someone is after another BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY, they will probably get it from Helen Fielding. I would rather have readers come to my book with an open mind.
Melissa Bank: I have to say I would probably consider it renting a house with a wraparound porch in Nantucket.
Melissa Bank: Yes, it is too personal a question. No, I don't have a boyfriend.
Melissa Bank: I am working on surviving this book tour. I don't know what the next structure for the next book will be. Any ideas?
Melissa Bank: I generally wrote this book after work and on weekends. I generally come up with my material as I am sitting at the computer.
Melissa Bank: I wonder about it -- when Nick Hornby wrote HIGH FIDELITY, nobody said this is a "single guy in his 30s for readers who are single guys in their 30s." I am not sure why people are classifying me that way. I think all writers -- black, gay, straight, men, et cetera -- want to believe their books come upon universal truths. I am glad that my readers seem to include all age groups and both sexes.
Melissa Bank: Absolutely! I had to become 14 again, which is no picnic. And I wanted Jane's voice to reflect her growing up.
Melissa Bank: Edmund White's A BOY'S OWN STORY, and it was great.
Melissa Bank: I was not a good writer. I am amazed that I was accepted to Cornell's MFA program. I had to work my butt off.
Melissa Bank: I wrote the screenplay for the last story for Francis Ford Coppola, and it seems that story at least will become a movie.
Melissa Bank: I am teaching at Coppola's retreat in Belize, and I just found out that one of the writers dropped out. It is at the end of June, and Terry McMillan will also be there, and if anyone is interested, they should call Zoetrope -- 212-696-5720.
Posted July 4, 2013
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.
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Posted April 1, 2014
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Posted July 12, 2012
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 11, 2012
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!! <3Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 1, 2011
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. (:Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 4, 2010
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 25, 2010
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"....Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 24, 2010
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 23, 2010
I found this book lying in the back of my shelf. My mother had given it to me a long time ago and told me to read it. I never did and completely forgot about it. I guess I was waiting for the perfect rainy day. This book is well written and it keeps you turning page after page. It feels real and there's a lot of love and discovery in the story. It's easy to identify with the protagonist, if you are a girl. The relationships are complicated and sometimes dysfunctional but always loving and caring. I recommend watching the movie adaptation after you've read the book.
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Posted January 22, 2010
So, my sister handed me this book when I was twelve, she thought thatif I ever wanted to be a writer [in which I have wanted to become since I was seven] that I should read this book. The first time I read this, it was confusing, and rigid. But after the fifth or sixth time it began to click. This book has twist and turns and through out the story, those knicks that seem out of place overlap other knicks so it's like putting a puzzle together. I'll admit the breast cancer part threw me and left question marks hanging above my head, but then I thought that maybe Banks decided to say in a sad way that sometimes people overthink that they need someone as a crutch through hard times, but all you need is yourself and near death experience to realize that you don't. I absolutely love this book. I'm on my 56th time reading this book. And I don't plan on stopping.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 5, 2009
Seriously, don't bother. We loved it at my book club because it gave us plenty of time to have drinks and talk about EVERYTHING else but the book. It is awful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 29, 2009
The book was decent, but not one of the best I have read. There are random chapters that seem out of place throughout the book. It is more a collection of short stories than a novel. I was a pretty disappointed in the book. You are left wondering how many things turned out, or why things happened the way they did. I don't like to leave bad reviews, but I would warn against buying the book. Perhaps rent it, but I wouldn't spend the money on it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 18, 2008
A friend of mine was getting rid of some old books and not knowing anything about it, I picked up the novel and asked her if I could take it. She said sure. I read the book in less than a day and loved it. The book is very differnt in it's style and I loved that the book is written in a series of vignettes. It's cute, it's quirky, and very witty. What's not to like?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 15, 2007
The cover of this book went on and on about how funny it was and that it was about dating. This book started out slightly interesting and went downhill from there. It was less about the main character's experiences in dating and more about one long boring relationship that didn't involve sex. The book was also jumpy from one chapter to the next so it was hard to tell who was narrating or at what point in time that chapter took place. And finally the book was sad at several points. I don't find disease and death to be 'hilarious.'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 26, 2007
I'm not sure why this book was recommended to me. The plot was disappointing and the story poorly written (why is there one chapter on some neighbors--never referred to before or after?). If this is a generalization of single American women...we need to change our image and gain some morals.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 13, 2006
I thought the book was great however, I'm still confused about several parts. I didn't understand why we needed the chapter where the story revolved around the neighbors' lives. I also didn't get the entire chapter where she developed breast cancer. Maybe I needed the book 'dumbed down' for me.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 15, 2005
One of the best books I've ever read. If you're looking for something that has everything, this is the book for you. There's comedy, tragedy, and romance, all neatly intertwined in a wonderful story about life and all it entails. This book got me philosophizing about life myself, and that's always a sign that it's thoughtful and well written.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.