CGG Book Club: Three Martini Lunch
It’s time for another installment of the CGG Book Club! As always, I’m sharing my thoughts on some of my latest reads to add some more fodder to your ‘to read’ pile.
The Humans by Matt Haig
I read another Matt Haig – a British author – book a few years back called The Radleys and for whatever reason, it had stayed with me (it’s about a modern day vampire family). Haig has a unique style of blending a blunt, hard look at reality with a funny, whimsical view of the world by adding in some fantastical elements – and that’s exactly what he’s done here with The Humans.
In a nutshell, an alien that’s being punished for something on his home planet – where life is eternal and blissful – is sent down to earth to take over the body of a self-involved university professor named Andrew Martin, who has unlocked a mathematical puzzle that is the key to humanity’s evolution. The aliens don’t want the humans to know this however, because they believe we aren’t mentally capable of advancing in a productive way (we are barbaric, loveless thieves in their eyes). So the alien-turned-Andrew is set on a mission to destroy all evidence of the theorem being solved…only as he does, he begins to question some of his long-held assumptions about humanity. And of course, love.
Haig has a sharp eye for the ironies of our life and the weird definitions of what’s right and wrong in our world, and while they’re often used to great humorous effect (Andrew’s assessment of what we eat is hilarious, especially when it’s something that he likes – see: tea, wine, peanut butter), they’re also used to a discomfiting or almost devastating level too. Fair warning, the prose style is a bit tricky to get into – Andrew isn’t a native English speaker after all – but the pay-off from reading this humble, hilarious, heartwarming read are worth it.
Now onto the main event! I’m very excited to be reviewing Suzanne Rindell’s Three-Martini Lunch, which was freshly released in April.
What’s The Buzz?: If you look at the little blurb at the top of the book cover above, you’ll see why this book is getting lots of attention. Set in the late 1950s, it’s earned comparisons to Mad Men by putting the spotlight on a segment of the multimedia industry in New York during this innovative time. Only, instead of advertising, Three-Martini Lunch focuses on publishing. AMC, looking for your next series?
What’s The Plot?: The story is told in three interweaving perspectives. First, we meet Cliff, who’s living in the Village like a bohemian, despite having a wealthy socialite mother and a top dog father in the publishing industry. Cliff gets it into his head that he might like to take a crack at being a writer – if partially to prove his father wrong about him. In his adventures, Cliff crosses paths with Eden, a young, ambitious, Peggy Olson type that dreams of being a book editor, but is given a rude awakening by men and women in the industry when it comes to her ambitions (and stunningly, her Jewish background). Finally, they also meet Miles, a black delivery boy and poet at heart who is on a mission to find out the truth about his father’s time in the military – only to discover much, much more about himself along the way. Eventually their stories crash together in more and more ways, all tied back to the idea of telling stories.
What You Need to Know: The Mad Men comparisons are totally apt, particularly with Eden’s storyline. If anything, there was a big part of me that wished more of the story had taken place in the offices of the publishing houses Eden becomes associated with – but the magic of interweaving the three stories together requires some out of office business to go down. While Miles’ story can take you jarringly away from the core world of the novel (but geographically and meaningfully), his is also probably the most heart-wrenching of the three, serving as the emotional core to the games the other characters are busy playing. I also wanted to mention that the book reminded me, on a less grandiose scale, of Valley of the Dolls. A surprising comparison, but a true one! Between the New York setting the big city dreams the three characters have, there may be less drama and drugs, but there’s definitely a likeness.
Who Should Read This Book: If you love period books or films or shows set in this era, then you’ll enjoy Three-Martini Lunch. If you want a glimpse into the publishing industry, same thing. If you enjoy stories that take multiple storylines and weave them together, ditto. It’s a bit of a ‘doorstop’ of a book in that it’s around 500 pages long, but it’s riveting enough that you shouldn’t see it as some big, Goldfinch-esque literary tome.
Interested in nabbing a copy of this riveting, swinging book? Here’s how to enter for your shot at nabbing a copy to dive into!
1) First & foremost: you must be a subscriber to the Canadian Gift Guide to enter this giveaway. It’s as simple as finding ‘The Gift of Gab’ box in the righthand column and dropping in your email or clicking follow. Then, tell me in the comments below by May 26, 2016 – why are you interested in readingThree-Martini Lunch?
2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around May 27, 2016 to select the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.
3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.
4) Bonus Entry: Follow Random House of Canada on Twitter, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about why you want to read this book! Post a link to your Tweet below in a separate comment to earn yourself an extra entry into the draw.
5) Bonus Entry #2: Follow Penguin Canada on Twitter, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about why you want to read this book! Post a link to your Tweet below in a separate comment to earn yourself an extra entry into the draw.
6) Bonus Entry #3: Add this book to your to-read list on GoodReads, and leave a link back to the page it’s on below in a separate comment to earn yourself another bonus entry.