Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Girls' Poker Night: Jill A. Davis

Jill A. Davis was a comedic writer for the Late Show with David Letterman. This tidbit of information leads me to want to believe that she is going to be a Good Writer. In my opinion, A Good Writer is someone who knows the rules of fiction writing and adheres to them unless deviation is absolutely necessary for the sake of the story. The writing in Girls’ Poker Night is conversational with too much of the Late Show for my taste. Davis wanders as far from the rules of fiction as possible without entering the realm of the Beats, and for no apparent reason. Her conversational writing style doesn’t add to the mood of the novel. Instead, it exhausts me to the point of frustration. However! Once I became accustomed to the writing, the story itself—buried as it is—is charming.

For the first half of the book I wasn’t at all sure where it was going. There was no anchor to keep me hooked on the plot. Girls’ Poker Night is written in short vignette style scenes, sometimes related, but generally they read more like a series of random diary entries. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and the wandering writing of Davis made me uncertain of which direction Ruby was headed. Is this a self-help book disguised as a novel about a woman who is forced to muster up her courage? Or is it a trite Sex and the City style romance novel? The truth is, it’s kind of both.

Ruby Capote is a humor columnist who sets out to change her life. She leaves her somewhat odd boyfriend and the boring, go-nowhere life she has, in exchange for a job in New York. She reunites with some of the girls from college and starts up a venting circle in the guise of a Poker Night (hence the title). In her New York life, Ruby is forced to muster up the courage to face her personal fears regarding relationships—fears that many of us might relate to all too well! While simultaneously taming psychological demons, Ruby enters into an unstable relationship with the perfect man, who just happens to be her boss.

A reader like me is commiserating with Ruby one moment, and hollering at her idiocy in the next. Anyone who has struggled with relationships will want to warn Ruby against foolish mistakes, while also empathizing with her choices. She is a completely relatable character who also happens to be hilariously witty. While I don’t love the conversational writing style, I do love Ruby’s quips and clever insights.

I realize that my review of Girls’ Poker Night might seem unclear, so I’ll simplify. Writing? Not so great. Plot? Relatable. Main Character? Charming!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting that a strong main character can completely carry the book (well, it got published) even though the rest is a bit clunky. I think I prefer that the setting carries. But, then there would need to be at least a few interesting characters, too.