High Maintenance

( 33 )

Overview

"High Maintenance is set in the manic world of Manhattan real estate, it tells the story of Liv Kellerman, freshly independent, having just left her husband and - more sadly - their fabulous duplex apartment with its Empire State Building views. On her own for the first time in her life, Liv relocates to a crumbling Greenwich Village hovel and contemplates her next move." "After an ill-starred stint as a reader for a blind judge, Liv stumbles into her true calling: selling real estate. With her native eye for prime properties and an effective
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Overview

"High Maintenance is set in the manic world of Manhattan real estate, it tells the story of Liv Kellerman, freshly independent, having just left her husband and - more sadly - their fabulous duplex apartment with its Empire State Building views. On her own for the first time in her life, Liv relocates to a crumbling Greenwich Village hovel and contemplates her next move." "After an ill-starred stint as a reader for a blind judge, Liv stumbles into her true calling: selling real estate. With her native eye for prime properties and an effective blend of empathy and contempt for her clients, Liv finds success and soon is swimming with the sharks - hardcore brokers who'll do absolutely anything to close a deal. Along the way she picks up a maniacally ardent architect who likes to bite her, a lovesick androgynous mentor, strange and exasperating clients, and a gun, and brings them along on her search for the one thing she's really after - a home."--BOOK JACKET.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Jennifer Belle’s ribald sense of humor and twisted view of human nature made Going Down one of the most talked about debuts in recent years. With High Maintenance, a hilarious tale of one urban woman’s struggle to survive divorce, Belle ensures herself a place among our grittiest -- and wittiest -- young writers. After her wealthy husband cheats on her, Liv Kellerman gives up her lush Manhattan apartment for a room in a run-down tenement in the Village. In the process of building her new life, she finds work in the vicious world of real estate, acquires a lusty new lover with some kinky habits and a live-in girlfriend, and inherits a host of quirky apartment seekers determined to drive her crazy. Belle has a keen eye for outlandish behavior which, when combined with her razor-sharp wit, gives Liv an amusingly jaundiced outlook on life in general and New Yorkers in particular. Misery should always be this much fun.
Library Journal
This work continues in the same tradition of Belle's highly praised first novel, Going Down (LJ 5/1/96), with equal parts hilarity and pain. Liv Kellerman has just left her husband after discovering his philandering. Never having been on her own before, she embarks on a new career in real estate. This novel is all New York from its high-priced apartments to its quirky characters. Liv begins dating an obsessive architect who likes to bite her. She finds a gun in a bathroom and keeps it, using it to scare aforementioned boyfriend when he turns out to be a liar and a cheat. Adjusting to a Greenwich Village dump after living in a penthouse, Liv shows fabulous apartments to clients who can't decide whether or not to buy them. Belle's portrayal of Liv's ups and downs, successes and failures are in turn funny and poignant. Interspersed are laugh-aloud lines: "When I got home I got undressed and a single pea fell out of my bra. I had gone to work with a pea in my bra and not even known it. Some princess, I thought." The film rights to Belle's first novel were optioned by Madonna; this one should have equal success. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/01.] Kathy Ingels Helmond, Indianapolis-Marion Cty. P.L. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Brimming with Gotham references, weird but lovable characters and typical urban scenes, Belle's second novel (after Going Down, which won her the title of Entertainment Weekly's Best New Novelist of 1996) is a witty and engaging tale of love and real estate in Manhattan. Liv Kellerman is 26 and recently divorced. In classic New York fashion, she's more upset about leaving her snazzy uptown digs than being single. Too proud to ask her wealthy father for money and lacking an advanced degree, she hits the pavement in search of a job and an apartment two things every 20-something in the city has had to struggle to secure. After she finds herself a shabby one-bedroom in Greenwich Village, "five flights above a `restaurant' called King Shawarma," she works on employment. Liv ventures into the cutthroat world of real estate, gets her license and is soon spending her days showing TriBeCa lofts to the city's most discriminating clients. She's surprisingly good at it, and her new profession turns out to be therapeutic, too her forays into Manhattan's most wanted apartments teach her a thing or two about her own inner workings. Like all New York stories, this one features an eccentric romance: here, a noncommittal boyfriend with a proclivity for biting (at one point, Liv must visit an animal hospital to have her ear reattached to her head). Belle's tongue-in-cheek style and laugh-out-loud antics keep the pages turning. Despite the lack of a riveting story line, this latest addition to the booming yuppie fiction genre is fresh and invigorating. 8-city author tour. (May 7) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This work continues in the same tradition of Belle's highly praised first novel, Going Down (LJ 5/1/96), with equal parts hilarity and pain. Liv Kellerman has just left her husband after discovering his philandering. Never having been on her own before, she embarks on a new career in real estate. This novel is all New York from its high-priced apartments to its quirky characters. Liv begins dating an obsessive architect who likes to bite her. She finds a gun in a bathroom and keeps it, using it to scare aforementioned boyfriend when he turns out to be a liar and a cheat. Adjusting to a Greenwich Village dump after living in a penthouse, Liv shows fabulous apartments to clients who can't decide whether or not to buy them. Belle's portrayal of Liv's ups and downs, successes and failures are in turn funny and poignant. Interspersed are laugh-aloud lines: "When I got home I got undressed and a single pea fell out of my bra. I had gone to work with a pea in my bra and not even known it. Some princess, I thought." The film rights to Belle's first novel were optioned by Madonna; this one should have equal success. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/01.] Kathy Ingels Helmond, Indianapolis-Marion Cty. P.L. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Love and a nice apartment are hard to find in Manhattan, says this second novel by the author of Going Down (1996). The daughter of a rich fashion designer, Liv Kellerman never had to work a day in her life—until she left her lawyer husband when he started taking Prozac and stopped having sex with her. Problem is, he owns their apartment. Liv takes a job reading to a blind judge, but she can't afford the cockroach-infested MacDougal Street walkup she's found on a salary of eight dollars an hour. So she signs on as a real-estate trainee in a seedy office run by a mannish woman named Dale and is soon earning commissions on various weird lofts and living spaces. Wearying of Dale's out-loud fantasizing about the young girls she lusts after, Liv moves on to a much more upscale firm, raking in bigger commissions and learning that rich clients can be really strange. (One couple asks whether she'd be interested in donating an egg or two to provide a sibling for their precious tot. She demurs.) Her affair with Andrew Lugar, an eccentric architect who likes to bite during sex, is going nowhere; ditto her divorce. After reading Andrew's diary, annoyed by his loony, egomaniacal descriptions of their slightly warped romance and by the realization that he never intended to leave his girlfriend, Liv contemplates shooting the jerk. She settles for dumping him after he chomps off her earlobe. Nothing ever comes up roses for this contemporary urban heroine: her soon-to-be-ex is selling their old apartment, she has to show it to buyers who criticize the décor . . . and so on. All this convoluted action would be a lot more compelling, however, if Liz had even half the sexiness and spunk ofBennington Bloom, Going Down's call-girl heroine A meandering story, though funny enough in a blasé way, featuring sly asides on everything from the perfidy of men to the purpose of Thanksgiving turkeys. Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573229302
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/2/2002
  • Edition description: FIRST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,392,413
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 7.92 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Belle

Jennifer Belle is the bestselling author of Going Down (for which she was named best debut novelist of the year by Entertainment Weekly), High Maintenance, and Little Stalker. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Independent (London), Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Ms., Black Book, Mudfish, and many anthologies. She lives in New York City and Olivebridge, New York, with her husband and their two sons.

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Read an Excerpt

High Maintenance, Chapter 1

1. ZEN LOFT&#151BACK ON MRKT

The morning before I was planning to leave my husband, my friend Violet convinced me to go with her to see a swami in someone's townhouse. I was surprised to see that he was an American guy in an orange dress sitting under a real Picasso.

"When we meditate we keep our eyes open," the swami said. I was relieved. I didn't want to sit in a strange room with a bunch of freaks with my eyes closed. "Even when we look deeply inside ourselves, we never stop looking out at the world," he said.

I sat there for forty-five minutes with my eyes open thinking about my situation and looking around the room. It was a beautiful living room, all very upholstered, with stairs behind me that led to a private garden. The woman who owned it, our hostess, had been proudly running around, fluffing pillows and pouring the swami tea. It wasn't as nice as my apartment.

The question was who would be forced to leave the apartment-me or Jack. Jack owned the apartment, and I didn't. Jack could afford the maintenance, and I couldn't without his help. And Jack had announced that the only way he was leaving the apartment was in a pine box.

I didn't want to leave but I refused to be like my mother, a character from a Jacqueline Susann novel complete with gold ankh necklace, turning a blind eye or cheek or whatever it was to her husband's infidelity.

So I would have to be the one to leave. I had spent five years married to a man named Jack. I had hung all my hopes on a man with the name of Jack. As if my life were a roadtrip in a car with flat tires and the most important thing to have was a jack. I had wanted a jack even though I would have no idea how to use one if my life depended on it.

I sat there crying until someone finally hit a tiny gong with a stick and the swami asked if anyone had any questions. I thought about asking if I would ever have love again, but I didn't.

He looked right at me and said, "Yes, you will."

I looked behind me, then back at the swami. "I will what?" I said.

"Get a boyfriend," he said sweetly. Everyone laughed. "As long as you don't get too hysterical about it."

"I wasn't thinking about getting a boyfriend," I said. "I'm a married woman," I added. At least I was for one more day. I felt stupid for thinking about love when I should actually be more concerned about getting a job and an apartment.

"My advice is to keep your overhead low," the swami said.

The girl sitting cross-legged on the floor next to me nodded as if deeply moved. A lot of people were nodding and bursting into tears.

"That's especially important for you," he said to me.

When it was over everyone smiled at me as if I were some kind of meditation celebrity. As if I were the luckiest person to be given the news that I, more than anyone, should keep my overhead low. I felt like I had been given a curse.

Of course Violet never even showed up. I stood there by myself drinking tea and reluctantly hugging people.

"Do you have the time?" I asked a man on the corner when I left the swami.

He extended his arm to raise the sleeve of his suit in a cartoonish gesture and looked at his watch. He told me. I thanked him and began to cross the street, noticing that I actually felt more relaxed and open.

"Get a watch, lady," he mumbled under his breath.

"What?" I said, turning around.

"Get a fucking watch, lady," he said, loudly.

"Nice. Nice. Really nice," I said. It felt exhilarating to have such an intimate fight on the street, even though when I really looked at him I saw he was pimply and didn't look much older than seventeen. People stared. I felt almost wide-awake.

"What do I fucking look like, Big Ben?" he shouted.

I had sat in a strange living room praying for a man to be sent to me. This was something. The swami had already come through. This boy might not be the man I spent the rest of my life with but it was something. A small beginning. I knew from this that I was ready to date again. It was a sort of warm-up.

"You don't look a thing like Big Ben. There's obviously nothing big about you," I said. "What time did you say it was?"

"Fuck you."

"Fuck you," I said, and walked away.

I bought The New York Times and went to a cafe so I could sit there pathetically circling things like everyone else. I tried to think of what I could do.

I didn't know what I had been thinking ending up in a cafe at twenty-six with no skills or education. I had gone to NYU for eight days and hated every minute of it. I went the first Monday through Friday, had the weekend off, went back Monday, Tuesday, and dropped out at the end of Wednesday. That's where I met Violet. My father had offered to get me a suite at the Plaza Hotel complete with room service, which was his idea of an apartment, but I had decided to live in a dorm because I wanted to feel like a normal person, and Violet was my roommate. For eight days, I had to overhear her on the phone crying to her parents in Texas that she had fallen off a curb and broken her ankle and that all New Yorkers were the ugliest, thickest-lipped people she had ever seen.

That comment always stayed in my mind. I had always thought it was good to have voluptuous lips. Her lips were the only things about her that weren't thick. But she was my roommate, my college roommate, and I loved the idea of that. I admired women who stayed friends with their college roommates and had them as bridesmaids at their weddings. I spent eight days bringing her trays of food because she was on crutches and trying to find charm in the fact that she had never seen a Woody Allen movie.

Then I met Jack in an elevator at the Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street. I was looking into changing my name after the New York Post ran a blind item about my father on Page Six ("What famous clothing designer was caught with a transvestite prostitute in Riverside Park and punched out a police officer?"), and we got married two years later. After that it always seemed like there was so much to do. The five years just flew by. First of all, we went to his country house every single weekend and that time didn't even count because we weren't in New York. As soon as we hit the Saw Mill it just wasn't my life anymore. There was no sex, no fun, no friends. The most I could hope for was the occasional movie or antique. All I did was listen to the teenage daughter of our closest neighbor talk about all the different places she managed to have sex with her boyfriend without her parents knowing, while I spread jam on saltines in the kitchen, and my husband took naps alternating between the two white couches on the screened-in porch. And then, Mondays through Fridays back in the city, my husband always needed me to do things like buy a chrome orange juicer or interview maids. But at least I hadn't relied on my parents.

Now I couldn't think of anything I could do. I felt a new sense of abandonment, beyond my usual sense of abandonment. It made my old sense of abandonment feel like child's play. I was no longer the house that Jack built. I sat in the cafe reading the paper. The only thing I seemed to remember how to do was read. I knew how to read, although I hadn't learned until I was pretty old, seven. But at least I had learned. I looked to see if there were any jobs for readers.

—Reprinted from High Maintenance by Jennifer Belle by permission of Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 2002, Jennifer Belle. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 33 )
Rating Distribution

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(14)

4 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2004

    a waste of time

    This book is very awfully written with a main character without a shred of self- respect. Like many reviewers have pointed out, the relationship between Liv and Andrew is totally unrealistic, which made it very hard to get into the story. Andrew was a thoroughly irritating character who has no redeeming feature, and having to read their equally irritating interactions made this book a horrendous read. Aviod this at all cost.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2004

    Laughing out Loud

    As someone who was separated from a cheating husband, I can relate to Liv. She behaved like a 'real' person with all her quirky ways. No one is perfect or always makes the right decisions. Her choices in life were emotionally driven. I laughed out loud many times because the thoughts that run through her head are amusing. Anyone who has gone through or is going through a divorce should read this.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2003

    Fantastic!!

    I'm still in shock at how I finally found a book that appeals to my sense of humor. I thought Liv was a perfect spoiled girl-woman. I laughed out loud throughout the book, and when I was finished, the smile on my face was glowing. Belle writes what I am constantly thinking in the back of my sometimes very strange mind.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2003

    Fantastic

    Fantastic book. Read it once, put it aside and then reread. It will make your laugh all over again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2003

    Fabulous Read

    This book was a great read and I could not put it down! If you live in Manhattan, you will really get a kick out of this. Great book for the independent woman!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2003

    You've GOTTA read this!

    Initially 'High Maintenance' caught my eye because of the title; I thought, 'Hey! That's me!' haha Once I began reading, I couldn't put it down. I found myself laughing out loud, despite my whereabouts. Liv is a character that, while on the surface I didn't relate to, the basis of her soul, the needing to find herself and where she belongs, is something I think everyone can relate to. Her adventures as a newly single woman in the workforce had me laughing to tears, especially her randevouz with Dale, the um, she-he real estate agent. Her romantic escapade with the sex psycho, Andrew also had me on the edge of my seat. When I was unable to read this page turner of a novel, my thoughts were always reverting back to the words I was about to read, wondering always what was going to happen to her next. It's definitely a must read...pick it up today!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2002

    LIGHT READ WITH GREAT HUMOR

    For those of you who live in New York, you'll definitely appreciate this book; however, you don't have to be a New Yorker to enjoy it. Jennifer Belle takes a somewhat senstive issue of divorce and re-entering into the world of career and dating and makes it hysterical. There are so many details in this book that we could all relate to even if you don't live in the big city - the thoughts that go through our minds - she has it down. I'm looking forward to reading her first book, Going Down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2002

    A charm!

    This book was passed onto me by a friend which by the end of the book I had a line of friends waiting to read it. It was close to reality for many of situations that women in New York go through, as well as being laugh out loud funny.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2002

    I Laughed my A** off!

    This book is so hysterical that I had found myself laughing out loud in public. It's a fun read and even though the characters are extreme I surprisingly can relate them to several people I know. Which made this book even more enjoyable. The main character, Liv, is sarcastic, humorous & has the attitude which will let no one stand in her way. Her experiences are fun and if you live in NY, as I do, you will find that you can have a connection to her many embellished encounters. I also loved the rhythm of the writing. In NY you can see & experience almost everything non-imaginable, 'High Maintenance' directs those elements with a witty technique. I loved it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2014

    This book was kinda neat

    This book was kinda neat

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  • Posted December 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    High Maintenance

    This is the first book I have read by this author. Believe me I won't buy anything else by her. I only read 81 pages and realized that this book wasn't going to get any better. What a waste of time! I liked the cover and that was it!!!! Don't bother with this one - the writer's ability to communicate and keep you interested is just not there. Too many good authors to waste time on one like this.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2009

    So funny... great read

    My sister gave it to me read, but I never intended on reading it. I loved this book. Parts made me laugh out loud. Jennifer Belle has a great way of developing characters that appeal to the craziness inside all of us.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2008

    One of the best I've read

    I am an avid reader of lots of different genres. This book is a real page-turner that will keep you laughing. Highly recommended!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2008

    It gets me by

    i only read when i'm bored, and i haven't finished it yet, but so far its a great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2007

    AWFUL!!

    I bought this book on a whim from a buy 2 get one 1 free section and I was glad I did not pay for it. I have read a lot of 'chick-lit' and this is by far the worst book I have ever read. I couldn't believe how appaling the main charater's personality is and I couldn't follow the story line. The book jumps from sub-plot to sub-plot without giving closure to anything. I finished it only because I thought that it would surely get better, but it NEVER did! This book was truly a disappointment from beginning to end and I would not recommend it to anyone.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2005

    I laughed my A** off Too!

    This book is hysterical. Liv is so crazy and so quick witted and that's what makes it commical. The dialogue is hilarious. You can't take it seriously. It's just a fun read and I laughed outloud through the whole book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2004

    Funny, easy read

    When you have just finished a lengthy, long classic...this is a great book to pick up. It is an easy and FUN read about a woman overcoming a divorce and finding the perfect apartment in New York. It will make you laugh and cringe all at once. I would recommend it as a great holiday read or by the pool book. Too Cute!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2004

    Fun read

    Great book although I had a hard time relating to Andrew & Liv's relationship. For her to have really liked someone like that I think she must have been a little crazy and/or suffer from low self esteem. The end was contrived but overall I liked the book alot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2003

    Yikes!! I would give 1/2 star if i could

    This has got to be the worst book i've ever attempted to read. I stopped after 100 pages. Pathetic, stupid and the main character is downright mean. This book was recommended to me, but rest assured, i would not recommend it to anyone.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2003

    Worth the read

    The character was well developed and though many people say they wouldn't find themselves relating to her. I did. It's atleast worth the read. It had a great ending.

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