Tolstoy Lied

Rachel Kadish

This is kind of the academic version of Sex and the City, and I kept finding myself using the words “it’s kind of a ‘chick lit’ novel” in describing it. But it’s more than just a quirky novel about dating.

Our nearly-tenured heroine starts out by talking about the first line of Anna Karenina and how “literary types swoon over that line” but it’s “the most widely quoted whopper in world literature” (oops); she goes on to question whether stories can have endings that are both honest and happy. The whole discussion made me think about Among other things, I’ve taken up smoking, and whether it falls into that category of books that thankfully don’t fall into the pit of tragedy for the sake of the expectation that a “good” story has to at some point.

Elka described it as both “like how we write but brainier” and “fiction with cadence,” which are both pretty good descriptions. She also quoted this one line that made me want to read this book, which will surely stick around in my head for some time:

I sometimes think being shocked when romance lets us down is like joining the military and being surprised when people shoot at you.