'Daum brings a crisp, wisecracking voice to her novel about Lucinda, a life-style correspondent for a morning television show, who, in search of a more interesting life, leaves New York for Prairie City, a fictional Midwestern town.'
One of today's most admired new voices blends social critique and a bittersweet love story marked by both style and substance.
Critics hailed Meghan Daum's My Misspent Youth as "pretty damn irresistible" (New York Newsday) for its fresh, funny, bracing take on modern life. In The Quality of Life Report, Meghan picks up on a timely theme and embodies it to perfection in the persona of Lucinda Trout.
Jaded by a life of eating from plastic containers, dodging the feng shui in her boss's office, and reporting on thong underwear as a lifestyle correspondent for New York morning television, the thirtyish Trout is ripe for escape. So when the rent on her tiny mouse-ridden apartment doubles overnight, she heads for Prairie City, USA, to feed her own and every New Yorker's heartland fantasy in dispatches tagged "The Quality of Life Report." "Real life" is what Lucinda's afterand, if possible, a man who knows how to wield a hammer. Fantasy becomes reality (in Prairie City, deviled eggs are a delicacy and fake nails are de rigueur); but reality has surprises up its sleeve. It takes Lucinda through an epiphany and an unlikely romance in a tale that is redemptive, wickedly witty, and heartbreaking all at once.
Open Arms, Open Minds
For the sake of those involved, I will say only this: my moral, ethical, and, if not spiritual, let's say existential coming-of-age took place in a more or less rectangular-shaped state in the Midwest--closer to the West Coast than the east by maybe one hundred miles, closer to Canada than Mexico by maybe one hundred--in a town populated by approximately ninety thousand government employees, farmers, academics, insurance salesmen, assembly-line workers, antique dealers, real estate agents, rape crisis counselors, certified massage therapists, girls volleyball coaches, and a whole lot of other people who, as they would tell it, just wanted to live in a peaceful place where movies cost six dollars and the children's zoo was free, and where library fines, even if you kept the book for a year, even if you dropped the book in the bathtub and returned it looking like it had been rescued by search divers, were rarely known to exceed five dollars. The state, dogged ...
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