Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The five most important books of 2014

Esquire writers and editors selected "the five books published this year that, if you were to read them all, would give you a much fuller picture of what humans were dealing with in 2014." One title on the list:
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is not the kind of book you can give your heart to. It's mean. Its main character is not likable even to himself. Very little happens. Nathaniel P. dates women, awkwardly, and talks his way into a six-figure book deal. That's pretty much it. "Nathaniel Piven was a product of postfeminist, 1980s childhood and politically correct, 1990s college education. He had learned all about male privilege. Moreover, he was in possession of a functional and frankly rather clamorous conscience," Adelle Waldman writes. He treats women rudely, if not badly. And he has no goals outside of mere social victories. He's a negligible, bland person. And yet there's no question that this book has stayed with me more than any other this year. Nathaniel P. is unforgettable as a literary creation, but the thing is that I keep running into him in real life. Over and over again. I cannot escape him. Granted, he is not named Nathaniel P. Sometimes he's called Alexander M. or Marcus S. or Winston M. or Ben L., but they are all the same guy—clever, educated, amoral, and totally obsessed with the absolute minutiae of their own lives. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is 2014. Its shock of recognition is only muted by the discomfort it brings with it. —Stephen Marche
Read about the other books on the list.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. also appears among Radhika Sanghani's top ten books to make sure you've read before graduating college.

The Page 69 Test: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P..

--Marshal Zeringue