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Here Kitty Kitty: A Novelby Jardine Libaire
"The Jazz Age had Fitzgerald, the Beat Generation had Kerouac, and now post-millennium Williamsburg has Jardine Libaire....Could Libaire's be the voice of her subculture? She certainly has the tone down. Here Kitty Kitty is irritating for the same reasons that hipsters are irritating: It is strutting, humorless, and formulaic." Anna Godbersen, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
Lee is a redhead with an appetite for bad things, a cross between a hipster and a calendar girl. A beautiful mess, she trips down late-night sidewalks in Helmut Lang heels and a vintage Dior dress. Her plan is to be an artist, but these days, her feverishly bohemian life has her doing more drugs than art. She hates her apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, its floors strewn with beer bottles, record albums, and ashtrays, but she hates it even more that she's about to be evicted.
Managing a Tribeca restaurant, Lee works hard to make rent, but then spends the money on pills, cocktails, and vintage handbags. And as her wild life becomes more escapism than freedom, she faces the terrifying prospect that she has gone too far to get back. She considers an older man's offer to pay off her debts, and for the first time imagines compromising her dreams.
Jardine Libaire's voice, like her heroine, is tough, seductive, and hard-hitting. Told in a series of snapshots, Here Kitty Kitty is a portrait of New York in all its darkness and glamour. It's a tour through Wall Street steak houses, cocaine dens, Hamptons beaches, loft parties, art galleries, strip clubs, hospital rooms, and Brooklyn rooftops. It's a tale of debt, art, love, integrity, and risk. Mostly, it's a story about being on fire without burning up.
"They say the best nonfiction reads like fiction. But is the reverse also true? It would seem so after reading this gorgeously written debut novel, whose narrator is so keenly evoked that her reminiscences read like a memoir. Lee is one of New York's party girls extraordinaire. She's also a complete train wreck. She manages a trendy Tribeca restaurant yet can't pay the rent on a railroad flat in Brooklyn's hipster ghetto. Not many salaries could support her ravenous appetite for drugs or her taste for white knee-length furs from Bergdorf's. Still in mourning over her mother's death two years ago, Lee likens herself to a pint of raspberries: 'On top the ruby berries looked juicy. Unwrapped and spilled into the colander, they revealed undersides black with rot.' In deftly rendered scenes and flashbacks, Libaire introduces us to the eccentrics who occupy Lee's life: Yves, her French sugar daddy; Kelly, an enigmatic wanderer; Belinda, her reformed best friend. She's able to capture a character's essence in a single, lovely phrase, particularly Lee's mother: 'Guests would arrive at eight and find her in a damp bikini, only beginning to scour cookbooks for ideas. But the night would be unforgettable.' Laced with musings about art and marked by unexpected metaphors ('Drugs turned the cardboard box of an ordinary day into a honeycomb, dripping and blond'), the book summons consistently powerful images. But like a sloppy night of boozing recalled the morning after, some readers will wonder what the point was. More of an extended character study than a plot-focused narrative, it floats along on a cloud of Lee's narcissism, celebrating 'poverty and dependence' as glamorous, despite efforts to convince the reader otherwise. Agent, Sally Wofford-Girand. (May) Forecast: Those looking for a darker, more literary slant of chick lit would do well to check this out. Libaire's fashion sense is as well-honed as her perfectly turned phrases." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"With Here Kitty Kitty, Jardine Libaire gives chick lit a swift kick in the rump. She writes with a clipped, cinematic panache, and her deadpan decadence will remind readers of an East Coast version of Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays and Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero." Kurt Wenzel, author of Gotham Tragic
"Some readers will be put off by her distinctive style, but quite a few others will be seduced by her cinematic writing and her vulnerable hipsters." Booklist
"Libaire...wisely explores her heroine's long and difficult struggle to take care of herself: to be sober, to sleep peacefully, to be alone. In the process, the author offers glittering descriptions of New York life, both its obstacles and its promise." Suzy Hansen, The New York Times Book Review
A new, vivid female voice takes on delight and dissolution in New York City in this dark urban adventure.
New York at night is an urban playground where glamour and danger are just flip sides of the same thrilling coin. The tough, beautiful player at the heart of Jardine Libaire's acclaimed first novel is Lee, the consummate party girl. Lee has the right designer clothes, the right job managing a stylish restaurant, and the right lover, who finances all her bad habits. As the lights go down at closing time, the energy of the city is a call Lee cannot resist, even when her Cinderella-like existence begins to unravel.
About the Author
Jardine Libaire holds an MFA from the University of Michigan. Her stories have been published in Fiction and Chick Lit, an anthology edited by Cris Mazza. She lives in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. She is 30.
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