Picks and Pans Review: Girls in Suits at Lunch

updated 11/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Deanne Stillman

This is a truly terrible book. But let's not equivocate. It is also an unnecessary book, as foolish and inane in its way as Cynthia Heimel's Girl's Guide to Chaos, which it unfortunately resembles. Both are structured as playlets, and both feature '80s women in their 30s who are trying to come to terms with their sexuality and with men—and insensitive, ill-evolved men they are, too. An expansion of a piece Stillman wrote for Gentlemen's Quarterly, the novel is divided into 14 attenuated scenes. "Lunch #1" introduces the book's two doughty heroines, Trish, a lawyer, and Jane, a writer, doing what they seem to do best: sharing plenty of horror stories about their boyfriends. "Trish: So what did Gary, I mean Larry, do? Come on, Jane, spill the beans. Jane: Well, he did a lot of things, most of which I found extremely irritating. Trish: So why were you with him for five years? Jane: Six. Because he found my G spot." Other segments include "Who's the Mom Around Here," in which Trish discovers her mother has been dating a—let us say—youthful rock and roll sound engineer named Allen who rides a motorcycle. Then there is "Lunch #2" and "Lunch #3," during which Jane and Trish proceed to yammer further about men, and "Quest for Ecstacy," during which Jane and her off-again, on-again boyfriend, Larry, yammer about relationships. ("Larry: I don't know what to say. The whole thing just scares me, I guess. Jane: What scares you? Larry: You and me. Do you know that even though I've been in psychoanalysis for 10 years, I can't remember the last time I cried?") Trish and Jane engage in the kinds of sexually graphic conversations that were once believed to be the sole province of men, which at least has the virtue of leading to one of the book's rare enjoyable moments. Jane, who is starting to get desperate because of her boyfriend's inability to please her sexually, contemplates the advisability of "publishing a road map. Maybe 'two miles north of exit 66' would have been clearer than 'higher and to the left.' You know—car metaphors." Maybe Stillman, who is also a TV writer (The New Gidget, A Different World) and co-author of the very funny Titters, should have considered turning this book into something more modest, like Girls in Suits at Snacks. (Dolphin/Doubleday, paper, $9.95)

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