The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing

The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing

by Melissa Bank

Paperback(Reissue)

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Overview

The New York Times bestselling classic of a young woman’s journey in work, love, and life
 
“In this swinging, funny, and tender study of contemporary relationships, Bank refutes once and for all the popular notions of neurotic thirtysomething women.” —Entertainment Weekly
 
“Truly poignant.” —Time
 
Generous-hearted and wickedly insightful, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing 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. Soon Jane is swept off her feet by an older man and into a Fitzgeraldesque whirl of cocktail parties, country houses, and rules that were made to be broken, but comes to realize that it’s a world where the stakes are much too high for comfort. 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 come of age as a young woman.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140293241
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/2000
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 248,635
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Melissa Bank is the New York Times bestselling author of The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing and The Wonder Spot. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan, and Zoetrope, among other publications, and has been heard on National Public Radio and featured at Symphony Space in New York City. Bank holds an MFA from Cornell University and is the winner of a Nelson Algren Award for short fiction. She divides her time between New York City and East Hampton.

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

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.

Table of Contents

Advanced Beginners
1(44)
The Floating House
45(28)
My Old Man
73(32)
The Best Possible Light
105(20)
The Worst Thing a Suburban Girl Could Imagine
125(80)
You Could be Anyone
205(18)
The Girls, Guide to Hunting and Fishing
223

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

"I saw my life in scale: it was just my life. It was not momentous . . . I saw myself the way I'd seen the cleaning woman in the building across the street. I was just one person in one window. Nobody was watching, except me."

In The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Melissa Bank's crisp, witty, and revealing stories offer poignant glimpses of Jane Rosenal's spirited search for true love, self-understanding, and a fulfilling career. It is as though Bank has trained a telescope on the lit window of an adjacent apartment building, coaxing the reader to glean from the actions of its occupants the behavior patterns of East Coast urbanites.

Throughout the book there is a big-city quality of being simultaneously close to and far from other people. In one story, Jane's frustrated lover Archie Knox asks her if she knows Dante's definition of hell. "Proximity without intimacy," he tells her. Indeed, intimacy is a scarce commodity in The Girls' Guide, and in her quest for it, Jane shares the world-weary trudge and tragic sense of humor bequeathed to all who expect to make sense of life or to understand love. Bank's use of humor to deflect despair have conjured for many the ghost of J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield, slunk in his Macintosh (coat, not laptop). A familiar aura of sweetness and loss reminiscent of Salinger is palpable from the first pages of the book, when we meet Jane's older brother Henry, who, by introducing his "mature" girlfriend to the family has indelibly altered the paradigm of familial relationships with which young Jane is accustomed.

In the face of these changes, Jane soldiers on, looking to parents and brothers, girlfriends, lovers, and the self-help section in search of rules to explain it all. As the epigraphs to the stories indicate, almost any set of rules might do as well as the next. Sailing guide or feminist manifesto, older lover or typewriter manual, the facts of life are everywhere, and everywhere equally contrary, obtuse, without context, incomplete. Despite life's capriciousness, Jane resourcefully divines lessons from whatever and whomever is at hand, whether her great-aunt Rita (look up when you walk, tilt your chin, try to appear captivated) or lonely neighbor Oliver Biddle, whose shortcomings teenage Jane quickly distills: "Oliver Biddle was who you became if you couldn't find anyone to love except your parents."

Where there are rules, there are games, and the people in Jane's life are always playing games. From tennis to poker to name-the-capital, they play games for fun, for sport, out of boredom, out of fear, and out of love. Sometimes they play them on purpose, often they can't help themselves, and at other times they don't even know they're playing. Worst of all, the rules, assuming there are any, aren't spelled out for the uninitiated. One is expected to watch, listen, and then jump in. In St. Croix, when the group plays poker, Jane says, "Don't you think you should have told me the rules?" and Yves says, "It's just a game." But Jane knows as well as the others that what they are playing is more than poker and the rules are far too complex to explain. At another point, Jane tells her mom "You can't expect everyone to know your rules." Ironically, people do expect everyone to know their rules, even when they are not aware of having any.

Bank herself plays games, assuming her readers will watch carefully and catch on. Ever deft at conveying much with little, Bank fleetingly introduces Nina and Ben Solomon, the neighbors from "The Best Possible Light," when sixteen-year-old Jane and her grandmother sip brandy on the terrace in "My Old Man." The Solomons come out on the larger terrace downstairs to share a cigarette. "The woman stood against the wall, with her arms crossed." Jane notices and asks, "Who lives there?" In a book as spare and meticulous as The Girls' Guide, Nina's crossed arms and Jane's curiosity carry weight. There is nothing about this moment to indicate levity, and though we are given very little information about the couple, their image lingers and one wonders what becomes of them.

In the next story, Bank takes us downstairs for a better look at Nina Solomon and her kids, years later, sans Ben. (We don't know it's the Solomons for quite a while, but that's part of the game.) It is a portrait of a family committed to questioning society's generally accepted rules. We have seen that Jane's family follows rules, even subtle household gender codes. When Henry brings home his girlfriend, he and his dad go sailboat shopping while the girls walk on the beach and talk about fancy dishware. In contrast, the Solomons test the validity of every rule. "The Best Possible Light" is like a multi-generational study of unconventional child-rearing practices (ironically kicked off with a quotation from Dr. Spock). On the night of the story, Barney, Nina's son, discloses that his ex-wife is pregnant with his child, as is his current girlfriend. Reactions are mixed, though one sister's Italian boyfriend—a representative from the epitome of traditional families—offers his evaluation, saying as he leaves, "I think you are a good family," a resounding endorsement for the wisdom of the Solomons' ways.

The guardians of social mores are everywhere. We hear voices of instruction in advertisements, books, family, lovers, handbooks to anything from bringing up a baby to being a Girl Scout, even from people Jane's never met, such as Nina Solomon. Codes of behavior and expectations don't have to be articulated, they've been insinuated into our every gesture. They are impossible to avoid.

In the final story, befuddled by experience, Jane conducts a behavioral experiment against her own intuition. Suppose the relationship between a man and a woman is not love under a veneer of games, but a game under a veneer of love? In the regimented romantic life she launches with the help of How to Meet and Marry Mr. Right, falling in love is a test of wills, structured like a game, a hunt, or a formal dance. It's not surprising that when Jane hits the dance floor for single's night, she goes to a square dance, that thoroughly structured exchange between the sexes, where a caller directs the moves and changing partners is just part of the dance.

Jane's rejection of this last hypothesis about how people love each other marks her arrival at autonomy. The self-confidence that strengthened after her father's death and faltered with her foray into the self-help section, returns, triumphantly, when she discovers the validity of her instincts. In an interview, Bank commented, "Someone asked me how the book might be described. I think it would be "Girl meets boy, girl loses self, girl gets self.'" Ultimately, the big game being pursued in The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing is not a guy, it's Jane herself. It doesn't matter if her relationship with Robert at the end of the book flourishes or fails, she has transcended the rules and moved on to a more authentic intimacy.

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.


ABOUT MELISSA BANK

Melissa Bank 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 Sag Harbor, Long Island.


PRAISE

"Bank writes like John Cheever, but funnier."—Los Angeles Times

"Captivating."—Newsweek

"Truly poignant? There is an exquisite honesty to Jane's relationships." —Time

"In this swinging, funny, and tender study of contemporary relationships, Bank refutes once and for all the popular notion of neurotic thirtysomething single women." —Entertainment Weekly

"A funny, fresh Baedeker of the alternately confusing and empowering state of being female in the late-twentieth century America."—Elle

"Worth its weight in gold wedding bands." —The New Yorker

"Charming and funny."—The New York Times

"Gorgeous and wise." —Mademoiselle


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • Jane says, "You get all these voices about what a woman is supposed to be like—you know, feminine. . . . And I've spent my whole life trying not to hear them." Do men hear voices telling them what a man is supposed to be like? What is significant about Jane's attempt to ignore them? Where do these voices come from? Are they saying the same thing today as twenty years ago?
     
  • Imagine this book had been called something less gender-specific and romance-related than The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, for example The Best Possible Light. How would you have read it differently? What if it was calledEvery Man's Guide to Hunting and Fishing?
     
  • Jane calls the era when she and her friend Sophie were between boyfriends their sea-horse period, "when we were told that we didn't need mates; we were supposed to make ourselves happy just bobbing around in careers." What role does work play in Jane's life? What is the ideal role of work? How have women's expectations of their professional life changed since they first entered the workplace?
     
  • How does The Girls' Guide work as an overall story? What do the two stories that Jane doesn't narrate, "The Best Possible Light" and "You Could Be Anyone," add to the book?
     
  • Jane is attracted to Archie Knox from the first time she sees him, at the theater with her great-aunt when she is only sixteen. What is it about Archie that appeals to her?
     
  • Religion doesn't seem to play a significant role in Jane's life. If you could make up a religion for Jane, what would it be, and how would it change her life?
     
  • Jane seems to have a stronger bond with her father and her great-aunt than with her mother. Is there something lacking in her mom? What is it?
     
  • In an interview, Melissa Bank commented that "Nobody can actually be funny and erotic at the same time. . . . When you're being erotic, you're creating a spell; when you're making a joke, you're breaking it." What does being funny do for Jane?
     
  • What significance does cancer have in the book? What about smoking?
     
  • How big of a role does New York City play in The Girls' Guide? Could the stories have been set in your hometown? How would they be different?

Interviews

On Thursday, June 10th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Melissa Bank to discuss THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING.


Moderator: Welcome, Melissa Bank! Thank you for joining us online this evening to chat about your new book, THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING. How are you doing tonight?

Melissa Bank: Great!


Charisma from Woodstock, VT: Hey, Melissa! I just wanted to tell you how much I connected with the book. Did you keep a journal growing up?

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.


pac87@aol.com from xx: I hear you hit the New York Times bestseller list. Congratulations! How does it feel to be a New York Times bestseller?

Melissa Bank: Thrilling!


M. Reed from Carlisle, PA: A friend has read portions of your book aloud to me, and it is wonderful. I am interested to know whether you studied writing formally in college or grad school, and what writers, short stories, and novels you admire?

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.


Sarah from Santa Monica, CA: Can you please tell me the story of how you got this book published? This is your first book, isn't it?

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.


Josh from Nashua, NH: Hello. Wondering how you came up with the catchy title. Great jacket as well....

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.


Matthew from San Francisco: The one rule I learned from publishing in the very beginning is that short stories don't sell. What made you decide to write THE GIRLS' GUIDE using the short story format? Naïveté or pure rebellion?

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.


Crystal from Bryn Mawr, PA: So are you the new voice of feminism?

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.


Sharon from Oyster Bay, NY: I am sure you get asked this question all the time, but I am curious to know: How autobiographical do you consider Jane? Did you date an older editor gentleman?

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.


Jossie from Cobb County, GA: Are you going on tour for this book? Will you be coming to Atlanta?

Melissa Bank: I am on tour right now. Atlanta? Not that I know of....


Paula from Los Angeles, CA: Hi, Melissa. Congratulations on all your literary success! My question is this: Before your book was accepted for publication, did you ever deal with rejection (from literary journals or other publishers, etc.)? And if so, how did you cope with it and not feel discouraged? What kept you going? Thank you for answering my question and good luck with everything!

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.


Sheri from Newton, PA: I really enjoyed the unique voice Jane carried throughout the book. I also enjoyed the trueness of the character. Will you ever bring her back in any of your future writing?

Melissa Bank: I may have to. I miss her.


Lois from Michigan: Do you like or appreciate the comparisons to BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY?

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.


Moderator: What would you consider the ideal summer vacation?

Melissa Bank: I have to say I would probably consider it renting a house with a wraparound porch in Nantucket.


Dusty from Waterville, Maine: Good evening, Melissa Bank. What is your personal situation like these days? Do you have a boyfriend? Is that too personal a question?

Melissa Bank: Yes, it is too personal a question. No, I don't have a boyfriend.


Michael Little from Honolulu: Melissa, are you working on your next book? Can you tell us something about the structure of THE GIRLS' GUIDE, and will you use that kind of structure again?

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?


Michael from Dixfield, Maine: When do you write, and how do you come upon your material?

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.


Paula from Los Angeles, CA: Hi. Another question -- how do you feel about being included in the 30-something single-gal genre that seems to be the trend in publishing? Are you afraid it will typecast you? Or has it helped you?

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.


Belou from Atlanta: Hello, Melissa Bank. Just wondering how difficult it was to change Jane's voice throughout the different chapters as she aged. Was it a conscious mind frame of writing, like a 14-year-old, et cetera?

Melissa Bank: Absolutely! I had to become 14 again, which is no picnic. And I wanted Jane's voice to reflect her growing up.


Laurie from Towson, MD: What was the last good book you read?

Melissa Bank: Edmund White's A BOY'S OWN STORY, and it was great.


Ann from Roseville, California: I want to be an author someday, but I feel like I don't have the talent to write a book. Were you always just a good writer or did you have to work on it?

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.


Niki from Niki_palek@yahoo.com: Do you think they are going to make a movie out of this book?

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.


Moderator: Thanks for spending some time with us this evening, Melissa Bank, and congratulations on the brilliant success of THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING. Any final comments for your online fans?

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.


Customer Reviews

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The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 162 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..
seane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the beginning and middle, but not so much the end.
r.j.nichols on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the novel chick lit should aspire to. The humor transcends all those tired Bridget Jones-must-wed-now books. Maybe I shouldn't sully it with the "chick lit" label. It was funny and centered on relationships, but it was also true, real, sad, poignant, and didn't once feel forced to me. The characters felt like not only like someone you'd know, but like people you'd be glad to know.What matters is this is one of a few books I've been able to consistently recommend to friends that has never disappointed.
msjoanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Listening to the author read this book made the book much better than it would have been reading it in print. The book is a series of short stories -- almost like journal entries -- from a woman's life. The author has a great voice and it really comes through in the audio version. There were no earth-shattering insights here, but a perfectly interesting reflection on relationships. I think most people who were interested in this read it a few years ago, but it'd be a good choice for a long drive if you like audiobooks. The unabridged audio is approximately 6 hours.
jtho on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First, I was surprised at the beginning of the second chapter to realize this was a book of short stories, not a novel - nowhere was that mentioned on the back cover or in the introduction. However, the stories are all about the same protagonist at different parts of her life, so they are linked. I ended up really liking her, and was happy to meet her again (and her unique sense of humour) as she got older. This book is funny in a true-to-life way, especially about romantic relationships (and singledom) and family. It's a quick read, too.
kattepusen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Misleading title, but it is witty, silly, and sometimes poignant chick lit.Melissa Bank's Hunting Guide is the perfect book to read while taking a foamy bath with scenty candles - I enjoyed the different female musings after a long day and in between more serious readings. The chapters are all somewhat connected - not chronologically - and after a while I found myself quite fond of the various characters that kept reappearing (especially the brother, Henry, as well as the editor/lover Archie). I am not sure why the title of the book is what it is - it does not reflect the specter of the content - even though all the chapters deal with various ways of forming, developing, chasing, and ending relationships. The language is often quite clever; however, after a while I became somewhat fatigued by all the witty one-liners. Moreover, the sheer density of "funnies" delute the really solid ones, and several become just plain corny (ex page 235 where the narrator says "It occurs to me that I may not be the only butterfly whose wings flutter in the presence of his stamen"). Along the same lines is this quote: "It occured to me that the quiet in the suburbs had nothing to do with peace". The author's fixation on ending every segment with a "profound" or funny sentence quickly gets stale... That said, the book flatters the chick lit. genre more than most, and just as I am likely to shop for other good-smelling bath oils, I am likely to pick up another of Banks' novels to go with it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very good read. You will enjoy it
selfcallednowhere on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are mixed reviews of this book here, but I enjoyed it more than I expected to, and I don't think it deserves the (usually) pejorative "chick lit" designation. The characters are on the whole sympathetic, and the plots move along quickly. The one thing I had a problem with was the excessive glibness of the characters, but overall, a fun and poignant read.
meags222 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have to say I was expecting something a little different but that being said I really enjoyed this book. It was like a series of short stories about Jane's life. I was a little confused by one story that seemed to have nothing to do with Jane but other than that it was well written. I give this book 4 stars out of 5.
miriamparker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I secretly love this book and wish I had written it. I have a professor who is mad at me about this hope. But I can't give it up.
k_eliza_b on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has occupied a place on my shelf for many years now and remains there, despite the pejorative "chick-lit" grouping, due to its strong writing and lasting poignancy. I loved this book when I read it in my early twenties and I find myself turning to it still, nearly ten years later. I give it to friends and recommend it to strangers.
busymombookclub on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was a very quick read and enjoyable
mazda502001 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't like this book at all - I found it quite disappointing after reading all the hype about it. I could just as well have not finished it.Back Cover Blurb:'Let me tell you about the men I've known.'When it comes to the mating game, Jane's still learning how to play. As a teenager she tried to understand relationships by watching her elder brother falling in and out of love, and now, older but none the wiser, she embarks on her own affairs. There's the boyfriend with the irritatingly beautiful ex; the witty and worldly Older Man; the commitment-phobic who calls her honey but never uses her name. Plenty of fish in the sea - but how do you find a man worth catching? When she finally resorts to 'How to Meet and Marry Mr Right', a hilariously old-fashioned guide to hunting out and reeling in the man of your dreams, Jane discovers that with love, life and men, a girl doesn't need rules....
brainella on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an odd assortment of short stories all centered on Jane, a single girl trying to define herself and how she feels about love. As a teen, Jane watches the relationship her brother has with a nice young woman in college and how hard love can be. Her relationships are a odd mixture of bad decisions and too much friendly advice. Eventually Jane has to figure things out on her own and decide what is best for her. It's a witty, humorous book filled with the mistakes and choices all young women must face to become who they are. I enjoyed the book quite a lot.
June6Bug on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A series of short stories, mostly about the central character; they describe her coming-of-age through her changing relationships with family and with men.
megrockstar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very cute story. This book has gotten a good amount of fame for being fabulous. I picked it up and it is quite a story. It does grab you and, although it isn't *sad*, there is an undertone of sadness in the characters that is pretty evident. Cute story, hard to rate.
kikilon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lots of people give it cult status. I couldn't get past chapter 2. This is saying a lot. I can't remember the last time I didn't finish a book. Oh wait, I can. But comparing the Girls' Guide to Satanic verses is unfair to both books. GGHF is trivial in the extreme, and I found the language plodding along painfully. There were no clear images I could get drawn in by, no compelling cast of characters, and certainly no page-turning action. I probably wouldn't have been as disappointed if it wasn't hailed as one of the mothers of chick lit. I'm still undecided whether to force myself through it a bit further...
ACQwoods on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a novel written almost as a series of short stories. Normally I'm not a fan of that style because it can lead to a disjointed story, but in this case the collection flowed together beautifully. It was a quick and light read yet still had depth. I definitely recommend it!
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book's blurbs compare it to Bridget Jones' Diary, which was published the same year, and Girl's Guide is supposedly one of the progenitors of chicklit, but I don't see the resemblance to Bridget Jones, at all, other than it's from the point of view of a contemporary urban female dealing with love and career--it's no where near as fun, and is at no point laugh-out-loud funny as that other book.It's not really a novel, but rather seven linked short stories. They're not even consistent in style--some are past tense, some present tense, and though almost all are first person, one is second person. ("You Can Be Anyone"--very short, and one of my least favorite stories in the book.) Almost all revolved around Jane Rosenal, Jersey Girl and New York City career girl. (Although one story, "The Best Possible Light," Jane only gets one short mention, and it makes me wonder if the line was thrown in the story to put it in the book.) We meet Jane at fourteen, in the first story, "Advanced Beginners." She's sassy and smart, and that might have made a solid enough chapter in a more strongly structured novel following her, but standing alone, neither that story nor the next about her first boyfriend, "The Floating House" are standouts. The stories "My Old Man" and "The Worst Thing a Suburban Girl Could Imagine" are primarily about Jane's affair with an alcoholic 28 years older than her--and the stories run pretty much how you'd expect. What saves this book from a two star rating (besides it being well-written and paced enough to make this so quick a read I wasn't really tempted to put it down) was the last story. "The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing." This was the one story fairly close to Bridget Jones Diary in spirit, and was smile-worthy, as it takes on those books like The Rules that tell women they have to be manipulative and repress all personality to attract a man. I don't know I'd call even that story outstanding, but it was funny and sweeter than the rest.
isabelx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The cover (banana yellow with bubblegum pink writing) mislead me into thinking that this would be a typical chick-lit book, but it wasn't like that at all.An unexpectedly good read.
cameling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
[A Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing] by Melissa Bank is a light and casual story following a 14 year old girl as she experiences life.The chapters are centered around specific periods of her life, when she first observes love through her brother and his glamorous girlfriend, when she finds love herself at college, the love she observes between her parents, a relationship with an older man, her relationship with her new boss, an old relationship revisited, and the love she feels for her children and their loves.This book reads like short vignettes into a woman's life as it unfolds.
butterflybaby on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was not as entertaining as I expected it to be. Jane's character was boring as was all the other characters. I honestly can't remember anything that stood out in this book. It was pointless. I would not recommend it to anyone.
nefernika on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyable and emotionally compelling novel, funny dialog, likable main character. I admit I picked it up thinking it would be light and quick chick lit, but found the writing exceptional. smoothly minimal prose.
justine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very compelling series of inter-related stories from the life of a girl coming of age. A quick and wonderful read.