I spent my early twenties haunting the same bookstores and cafes in Boston as Jack does, trying to be a writer. Like Jack, I could be insufferable at times. With a fresh nose piercing, chain-smoking over a mix of Alanis Morrisette, Smashing Pumpkins, and Nirvana, I talked in circles about all my hard life choices—where to live (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, or Eugene), which guy to date (one summer, I strung along four at once), what to do for money while I wrote the book that would make me rich and famous (teaching or stocking shelves). I was all promise and passion, but too inexperienced to comprehend the gulf between my ambitions and my skills. I never once considered how privileged I was even to have these choices, to be able to ask the question Who do I want to be and what do I want to do in the world?
I love it when reviewers — of any book — add personal notes like this, and I wonder how in heaven’s name I’ve avoided running into Grace for all this time.
I also found myself thinking, as I read, about something Claire Tomalin said about George Eliot: “She writes about sex perfectly,” Tomalin says; “She never mentions it at all. I mean, who needs the penis and the pubic hair? Sex isn’t that–sex is the feeling.”
I couldn’t agree more, although I’m not clear whether Rohan is implying I did or I didn’t include too much … either way, of course, it’s a potential selling point.