Hard knocks


Love Slave. Jennifer Spiegel. Unbridled. 292 pages. $14.95 in paper.

Jennifer Spiegel’s first novel gives us a 30-year-old heroine who lives in Manhattan, writes a column for an alternative weekly and dates a hot finance guy. Love Slave is Sex and the City with a big ol’ nasty heaping of reality thrown in.

In Spiegel’s telling, columnist Sybil Weatherfield is strictly bound by the laws of financial gravity. Because she can’t live on the salary alt weeklies pay, she has to — gasp! — work as a temp, too. Her going-out dress is from the Gap. And though she hangs out with her best girlfriend at hipster cafes, pretty much all they do is talk about whether to leave New York.

Somewhere buried in all the fug, however, is a mid-’90s love story. In the background, behind these middle class, human-rights-obsessed college grads having their New York moment, Timothy McVeigh blows up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Superman is paralyzed after a fall, and Gen X blunders forward under the enormous shadow cast by the baby boomers. In the foreground, Sybil and the band guy become close, and the dance they do is irritating and sad and vulnerable and ultimately rather touching.

Claudia Deane reviewed this book for The Washington Post.

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