Picks and Pans Review: The Way Men Act
Lipman wrote a charmer of a first novel, Then She Found Me, a funny, touching and surprising story about a woman's bumpy dance of reconciliation with the mother who had given her up for adoption at birth. The Way Men Act, Lipman's second novel, is funny but neither touching nor surprising. Her heroine may be white and her hero black, but this is a conventional love story with a standard boy gets girl-loses girl-gets girl plot.
Melinda LeBlanc, 30, once the most popular girl in her high school, has returned to her hometown and a job as a florist after nearly a decade of drifting. "Some might say [it was] poetic justice," she tells the reader, "returning to the scene of my crimes, sentenced to design wedding bouquets for the dull girls who had hated me."
She soon has a one-night stand with Dennis Vaughn, a black classmate from high school who owns a local fishing equipment store that caters to yuppies. Dennis also does commentaries about fishing on public radio, three-minute spots that inspire "listeners [to] write to him saying they see in the lives of trout metaphors for capital punishment and race relations."
That Melinda and Dennis will end up together is inevitable. What will keep readers going, and even mildly enthusiastic, is Lipman's sure comic touch. Her smart dialogue and loopy supporting characters will, more than once, make you laugh out loud. In this book, though, it doesn't get better than that. (Pocket, $20)
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