How lovely it was to receive Jennifer Spiegel's Love Slave as an advance reading copy from Unbridled Books! Wholly unsolicited books are the bomb diggity, to go with a reference contemporaneous with the story, which takes place in NYC in the mid-1990s. It is extra lovely, of course, that I can recommend the book unreservedly: it's snidely comic, sweet, resonant, and of all things, it ends happily, with holding hands in a snowstorm! Seriously, what's better than that? (As long as there are hot toddies waiting back at home.)
Love Slave is narrated by thirtyish Sybil Weatherfield*, temp by day, columnist for alt weekly New York Shock also by day. By night she and BFF Madeline Blue go to every gig played by Glass Half Empty, whose lead singer, Rob, was famously widowed at 23 and still wears his wedding ring, the better to bed and forget a legion of ladies. When Sybil runs into Rob at her local laundromat and finds out he reads her column (titled "Abscess," full of vitriol and longing alike), they strike up a friendship that walks the edge of romance (despite Sybil's responsible, stable, job-having boyfriend Jeff, with whom she has great sex but little in common).
Argh, and that makes her sound like a floozy. Sybil is indeed selfish, but relatably selfish, in that way that smart, socially awkward people are, and in that way that so many people I know in NYC are. We come to this city because it is this city, and strike balances between scraping by and living the dream, and said balance fluctuates wildly from day to day. And we don't know what we want, so we keep trying different things--or we stop trying, and flail quietly in place, talking about leaving, knowing it's not going to happen, and do we even want it to happen? That's the kind of relatable Sybil is. And that's what made Love Slave such a great read.
*(Note to author: is that a reference to Holden Caulfield's little sister's girl detective alter ego Hazel Weatherfield? Because I totally recorded an album under that name in the mid-1990s, and by "recorded an album" I mean "stuck a blank tape into a boombox and played guitar and sang into it." Album title: Killer Chick Disco Shoes.)