Your friend won’t shut up about her perfectly nice boyfriend. Do you think he really loves me? But don’t you think he’s been acting strange? Honestly, who do you think is prettier, me or his ex? (His ex.) I bet he’s cheating on me. Do you think he’s cheating on me? Yes, no, who cares. And that pretty much sums up a night with Laura Zigman’s new book, Her.
Zigman’s first novel, ”Animal Husbandry,” about the similarities between male fidelity and animal mating habits, was good fun; the second, ”Dating Big Bird,” about a single woman’s baby/potential-father fever, was less so. And each book, including ”Her,” seems to star the same woman: a neurotic New Yorker, smart and sarcastic, who’s prone to self-sabotage but nevertheless gets her man in the end. You go, girl, or something along those lines.
In this go-round, the New Yorker has recently moved to Washington, D.C., and is engaged to be married to a high school English teacher. But then her fiance’s ex-girlfriend, who’s half French and twice as hot, moves to town and all hell breaks loose. ”[C]uriosity and obsession had outweighed security, until suddenly, I felt (how stupid was I?) ready for Adrienne. But when I caught that first glamorous, windblown, ‘just off the shuttle from Manhattan where I live and you don’t’ (anymore) glimpse, all that changed.” Parentheticals and paranoia ensue, as the bulk of Zigman’s novel is devoted to the heroine’s jealous downward spiral. Is the wedding off? Oh, of course it isn’t. And all the reader gets as a party favor is some two-bit words of wisdom that could have come printed on a cocktail napkin: ”Love, trust, faith — they are not equipped with radar device, sonar devices, lifetime guarantees. They are blind as bats. But they are all we have.” Listen, Laura, I like you just fine, but I’m going to quit hanging out with you if you keep telling the same old stories.