Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Men's Guide to the Women's Bathroom, by Jo Barrett

The Men’s Guide to the Women’s Bathroom: A Novel, by Jo Barrett

I’m not quite sure how this found it’s way onto my bookshelf, but I’m glad it did. A lighthearted novel telling the story of a jilted writer who is trying to get her love life and career back on track. While not my normal fare, this was a lot of fun. Set in Austin, it has a strong local feel, with the Taco Shack, Captain Quackenbush’s, The Continental Club, Moonshine, and Little Woodrow’s all getting visited. The humor, however, is what really makes this enjoyable; Claire St. John (the lead character) is a cross between Maddie Hayes and Lucy Ricardo: part sarcasm and part slapstick. She speaks to the reader in little asides that the other occupants in the scene don’t hear; this breaking of the fourth wall is used to great effect and damn funny.

During the course of the story, Claire decides to write a novel of her own from which we get periodic excerpts. Her book shares the title with the real one, telling men what happens in the women’s restroom. From the opening chapter of the book-within-a-book:

Listen up gentlemen. I’m going to tell you the big secret right now. I’m going to unlock the vault. So pay attention.
You always ask why we (women) go to the bathroom together in groups.
What could we be doing in there? you wonder.
Plotting to take over Wall Street?
The Military Industrial Complex?
Does Hillary Clinton have us all in a huddle? “Okay ladies, here’s what you’re going to do. Every single one of you is going to vote for me for president.”
Well, the answer gentleman, is yes.
Yes, we are plotting against you.
We should not be left alone to our own devices.
We are very, very dangerous.
Funny stuff! My favorite quote though, for what I hope are obvious reasons, is this one: “Every woman knows that a guy who actually reads is a rare and special creature, indeed.”

First Sentence:
The greatest advice I’ve ever heard was in the women’s bathroom.

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