Not to be Overlooked
By Nayisha Patel
Not To Be Overlooked introduces a variety of wonderful but lesser-known books to assist readers in finding their next great reads. This week’s column covers a review of Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld.
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld
Sittenfeld is noted for her acute observations of human behaviour as well as her ability to create complex, multi-dimensional characters. Her work frequently delves into topics of identity, privilege, and the intricacies of relationships.
"The Night Owls" (TNO) is a late-night comedic sketch show that Sally writes for. She's given up on love after a broken marriage and a string of bad relationships. Sally finds a spark when famed singer Noah Brewster visits as a celebrity guest on TNO and they work on several sketches for the show. However, she can't help but think that someone as famous and attractive as Noah would never fall for her. This section covers roughly the first half of the book, and it's the one that felt a little long to me because it's part history of Sally's time at TNO and part detailed description of TNO itself. These in-depth insights can be a little much at times. Sally herself shines in the book, with her insecure personality and clever humour as she contends with being a female writer on the show and her own foibles--is she a good enough writer, will she find love, and so on. The book is quite existential, with a lot of relationship pondering, yet it works. I really loved Sally and could relate to her anxious, insecure, introverted self, so that was a huge help!
The novel's next portion is told entirely through emails. In this texting age, you seem to have forgotten the intimacy of emails! We are currently in the grip of a pandemic. The book concludes with a more traditional narrative. This isn't an intense romance, but it's really easy to root for Sally and Noah and see their love develop for one another. Finally, a book about a superstar falling in love with a "normal person" (though, honestly, Sally has an agent and renowned connections!) recognises the complexities of the scenario. And don't worry, Sally will be stressed enough about the situation for all of us!
Romantic Comedy is unique--it's a completely new type of romance, but it's exactly the type Sittenfeld should write. Initially, I was sceptical, but I quickly became engrossed in Sally and Noah's universe. This novel repeatedly made me laugh out loud. It's absolutely amusing. Sally's relatability was fantastic. Finally, a romance that acknowledges the challenges and little humiliations that come with partnerships. Sittenfeld has crafted a stunning work that effectively tackles all the clichés and complexities of modern-day love. This is not your average romance, so don't expect it. It's a totally different kind of romance story, written in three sections by Sittenfeld, and one that includes the pandemic.