Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Title:Peyton Amberg
Cast: Tama Janowitz
Director: Bloomsbury

Ok. I admit it. I've given up reading Peyton Amberg. I don't think I'm that far away from finishing it. So probably if I made an effort I could finish it. But I really can't be bothered; I have no enthusiasm or interest in finishing it. Being a novel that didn't meet my expectations, based on the extract I stumbled upon on the publisher's website.

Peyton Amberg is the titular character in this novel by Tama Janowitz. An attractive woman who isn't particularly interested in sex or men. So when a Jewish dentist from a good family suggests marriage she goes along with it. They come from different backgrounds, her family is barely one step away from the trailer park, while his are affluent. Still they marry, have a son, and she keeps her job as a travel agent. But as the marriage goes on, as he works long hours, makes bad decisions and generally complains about how difficult life is, she starts to become interested in sex, just not with him.

As we are introduced to Peyton we meet a woman in her 50's who still has her lush good looks. At least, since she is the narrator, she believes this to be the case. However, as she pursues a man in his 20's in Belgium, it is suggested that she is far removed from her glory days. So the question is - how did Peyton become this human wreckage? With this first chapter, one would hope that Janowitz would spend the rest of the novel answering that question, all in the course of a novel I have seen described as Sex In The City meets Fight Club.

As the novel progresses, Peyton goes on a series of trips thanks to her work as a travel agent. She travels to Brazil, to Hong Kong and the like - there she meets rich playboys, or sleazy gangsters. Each chapter launching a new adventure, only to trigger a dull memory about life with her husband which goes on to dominate the rest of the chapter. So instead of the promised exotic adventures, the raw human fire of a crash and burn case, we get turgid domestic Americana. We get a novel that shouts loudly about being one thing, while delivering a shallow fragment of would it could have been. So I struggled, and I surrendered.

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