Iris Has Free Time

( 5 )

Overview

There, I came across a cluster of NYU graduates standing in cap and gown. They were laughing and posing for photos. Was it June again already? Their voices echoed through the subway tunnel. “Congratulations!” “Congratulations!” their parents said. And I wanted to yell, “Don’t do it! Go back! You don’t know what it’s like!”

Whether passed out drunk at The New Yorker where she’s interning; assigning Cliffs Notes when hired to teach humanities at a local college; getting banned ...

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Iris Has Free Time

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Overview

There, I came across a cluster of NYU graduates standing in cap and gown. They were laughing and posing for photos. Was it June again already? Their voices echoed through the subway tunnel. “Congratulations!” “Congratulations!” their parents said. And I wanted to yell, “Don’t do it! Go back! You don’t know what it’s like!”

Whether passed out drunk at The New Yorker where she’s interning; assigning Cliffs Notes when hired to teach humanities at a local college; getting banned from a fleet of Greek Island ferries while on vacation, or trying to piece together the events of yet another puzzling blackout—“I prefer to call them pink-outs, because I’m a girl”—Iris is never short on misadventures. From quarter-life crisis to the shock of turning thirty, Iris Has Free Time charts a madcap, melancholic course through that curious age—one’s twenties—when childhood is over, supposedly.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A 20-something dilettante named Iris Smyles searches for love and greatness in a collection of disjointed “stories of tragic dailyness.” Fresh out of N.Y.U., Iris feels destined for fame/fortune. After briefly considering movie stardom (“it couldn’t be that hard”), she settles on writing, but finds nothing of meaning in her own life about which to write. As she waits for fate to make her famous, Iris job hops, starting with a disastrous internship at the New Yorker’s cartoon desk (a job chosen because she enjoys doodling, and to which she frequently shows up still drunk from the night before). Her stints as a teacher, T-shirt designer, and sex columnist are all hindered to various degrees by the predictable consequences of her hard-partying lifestyle and incessant navel-gazing. In between life-changing epiphanies, Iris summers in Greece, falls in love a few times, and enjoys an ever-revolving circle of friends. While Smyles writes clear prose, her story lacks a substantial character arc, made more obvious by a chronologically disjointed narrative. Newly hatched urbanites will certainly find common ground with Iris, and fans of cringeworthy humor might appreciate her moxie, but there’s not much here for anybody else. Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management. (May)
From the Publisher
Praise for Iris Has Free Time

"If novels made Emma Bovary sick with romantic ideas, a liberal arts degree infects Iris with the same illness in grand proportion. Flaubert’s favorite novel was Don Quixote, a comic picaresque of romantic excess, and Emma Bovary, it’s been said, is Quixote’s tragic heir. Now, at the turn of the 21st century, comes Iris, with Quixote’s benighted zeal and Bovary’s impressionable heart, rushing into dive bars as if at windmills. Instead of romance novels or tales of chivalry, Iris has been seduced by the gritty glamor and dissolute romance of Bukowski, Henry Miller, Donleavy, and Amis, and lives in the spirit of the antiheroic 20th-century novel. Bovary and Quixote cast themselves as romantic heroes; Iris may be literature’s first quixotic antiheroine… “Madame Bovary c’est moi,” Flaubert said. Recognizing her illusions and struggles to grow up, we all might say, 'Iris is me.'"-BOMB magazine

"If you haven’t heard about this book yet, you will soon. Iris Has Free Time is the kind of book that makes me feel cool and hip while I’m reading it… If you’re anything like me–that is, laughably confused and hypocritical about how you fit into the “mainstream”–you should read Iris Has Free Time. It is a smart, funny, wise, and sometimes heartbreaking book about a slowly fizzling love affair with youth. It is shockingly resonant with my memories of irreverent partying in Manhattan during the early years of the internet. I couldn’t stop reading despite the emotional pain it inflicted as I swiped through the digital pages and considered Iris Smyles’ pithy observations alongside memories of the self-diagnosed “early mid-life crisis” that smacked me over the head with a two-by-four when I turned 30. And this is why the book works so well: the reader is just like the main character–constantly conflicted about how to pick an appropriate response to the plotline. Worse, choosing a reaction is tantamount to choosing a persona, making me, like Iris the protagonist, question the very notion of authenticity (and our popular conceptions of the ‘true’ self). The deep exploration of questions about identity makes Iris Has Free Time stand apart from its predecessors."—Forbes.com

"The hilarious high jinks of a college graduate in New York trying—and frequently failing—to navigate her internship, job interviews, and men, though her slipups rarely dampen her bravado."—Oprah.com

"It's hard to miss the surface parallels between Sex and the City and Iris Has Free Time… But it would be a mistake to dismiss Iris as a Candace Bushnell knockoff…the novel's deeper themes dovetail far more with Girls…What's more, it seems that unlike Carrie, Iris isn't about to sign herself up for an extra decade of Peter-Pandom. As she asks after surviving a series of benders, 'When did all these games stop being fun?'"—Elle Magazine

"Iris Has Free Time is a hilarious, lyrical and wise book about youth—its beauty, its folly, and the belief it will go on forever even as it's slipping away. You will love this book."—Diane Keaton

"Entertaining as hell." — SF Weekly

"Iris Smyles has created in 'Iris Smyles' an irresistible anti-heroine whose innocent iconoclasm startles and captivates." —Frederic Tuten

"If Hemingway's novels are icebergs, drifting majestically through a chilly sea, Iris Smyles's Iris Has Free Time is a mountain of glitter: iridescent, fabulous, and always changing its shape, it's a monument to the idea of fun, and is itself a delight."—Paul La Farge

"Iris Smyles has reinvented Sally Bowles and Holly Golightly for the 21st century—with this difference: she inhabits rather than observes her appealing character."—Edmund White

"Such a delight, this book: the perfect frenzied bildungsroman for an era when coming-of-age can be postponed practically to middle age, as funny and sharp as can be but unafraid of seriousness and consequence. It's The House of Mirth minus the no-way-out tragedy, Bright Lights Big City for the 21st century, 'Girls' for people who love the deep dive into great prose."—Kurt Andersen, author of Heyday

"Delightful, dreamy, witty, sad, and always charismatically engaging and curious, Iris, the narrator and heroine of this tale, lets you into her heart and mind as she observes the passing of her youth and the shadow-like recession of her dreams and romances. In doing so, she makes one think of one's own youth and folly, and all the folly yet to come, because maybe the unspoken message of this story—and one I agree with—is that we never really grow up. At least I hope we don't."—Jonathan Ames, author of Wake Up, Sir! and creator of HBO's Bored to Death

"Smyles, the author not the character, depicts a particular moment in time—that awkward place between being a kid and being an adult—and the results are often hilarious, often tinged with sadness, but always authentic." —Booklist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593765194
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/14/2013
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 618,843
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Iris Smyles has written for numerous publications including Nerve, New York Press, McSweeney’s and BOMB. She was awarded The Doris Lippman Prize for fiction, The Adria Schwartz Fiction Award, The Geraldine Griffin Moore Short Story Award and is a frequent contributor to Splice Today. She lives in New York.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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    Posted April 3, 2014

    Ebony ⇢ Bo

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    Heeheehee!

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    Spite

    She hears the group of dogs and turned slightl

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    Xan and Co.

    A strong, musculed dog padded in, followed by three others

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    Posted April 6, 2014

    Sass an co.

    The male german shepherd, female german shepherd, and male schnauzer walked through the land.

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