Sittenfeld, Curtis. Romantic Comedy. Random House, 2023. 320 pp. ISBN 9780399590948$28.00
Comedy writer Sally Milz is curious why gorgeous female celebrities date average dudes, but hot dudes don’t date average girls. On the popular late night sketch show she writes for, several funny but fugly dudes have pulled major leading lady and pop sensation superstars, while single-by-choice with a steady hookup Sally can’t find a cute nice guy in NYC. When pop superstar Noah Brewster is the musical guest AND featured performer, he brings a sketch draft that she copyedits in a brilliant and fascinating scene that greatly improves his draft and gives insight into how to craft a piece of writing and deliver feedback. It’s clear to the reader they have chemistry, but Sally, who swore off romantic relationships after an ambivalent divorce and disappointing encounter with a co-worker, doesn’t even recognize she has a crush at first… and then is stunned to feel jealousy when he partners with someone else in a sketch. Long-dormant feelings are reawakening, she panics and sabatoges, not willing to let herself believe Noah might actually like her. And that’s all just in chapter one, which is half of the book.
Chapter two opens almost two years later, four months into pandemic lockdown. In a fit of loneliness and still rueing the unresolved tension between them, Noah reaches out, Sally responds, and a few weeks of witty banter and flirting with timestamps at all hours become an email correspondence that is also a snapshot of the early pandemic. They get real, and the section ends with them agreeing Sally (back home in the midwest with her stepfather and his dog) will drive out to California to reconnect. Will they make the leap from friends to lovers and break the cycle of hot guys only dating hot girls?
This smart, funny novel addresses beauty standards, feminism, science, politics, social justice, fame, and trauma in a contemporary and believable way. The fast pace, riveting details, and dramatic tension of a potential opposites attract love match was unputdownable–I tore through Romantic Comedy on my day off this week–and if you love Saturday Night Live, this novel has the feel of an insider glimpse into how the sausage gets made.
I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #RomanticComedy from #NetGalley.