I like Jen Doll’s writing a great deal. When the wonderful Richard Lawson left Gawker for the Atlantic Wire my reading habits followed him and Doll is one of the writers I discovered as a result of my Lawson fangirl-dom. She covered the entertainment and gossip beat for the blog and would occasionally co-author pieces with Lawson. Her writing was (and is) fresh and funny and smart and I continued to read her work after Lawson decamped for Vanity Fair. Blogs and Twitter have the strange effect of making me feel as though I really know these people who I follow on social media so when I came across All The Single Ladies, an excerpt from Jen Doll’s forthcoming memoir in the New York Times in March, I was dead chuffed for her.
Save the Date is Doll’s debut book and it came out with the full force of the publisher’s marketing machine behind it this summer. After a week of alternating between 1Q84 and Every Day is for the Thief I decided I needed something lighter so I finally picked up Doll’s book.
Save the Date is strong in places, particularly in its opening essay. Overall though, it lacks the spark that makes Doll’s shorter-form work so fun to read. Maybe, as suggested in the New York Times review, this is because Doll is trying to spare the feelings of the friends whose weddings she is chronicling. Or maybe it’s hard to fill 321 pages with great wedding anecdotes. I like the book best when Doll is being honest about her warts, as when she is the sloppy drunk-crying girl being tucked into a cab outside of the wedding’s after-party. Other times, like when she is chronicling the end of a long-term relationship, it seems like she is trying too hard to fit her story into the wedding rubric she has set for herself.
If you caught me on a catty I’m-hungry-but-lunch-is-still-two-hours-away-and-my-hair-has-fallen-totally-flat day I might suggest that Doll’s book proposal wouldn’t have made it past a publishing house intern if not for the profile afforded by her blogging background. But that’s not true. I’m only suggesting it because I ate breakfast too early and am disappointed with how my blow-out is holding up. If you’re familiar with Doll’s writing you might miss some of her humor and personality but you’ll still find Save the Date to be satisfying summertime snack food, particularly if you’re only noshing on it between heavier meals.