Life After Joe – by Ann Benjamin – Review

The great thing about this book is that it lets you peek into Liz’s state of mind from the very start. Written in the form of ‘blog posts’ (are they?), she says in the very first ‘blog post’ of hers that “Nothing makes sense anymore.” It is another matter that as a blogger myself I did not find Liz’s writing style to be quite realistic (I mean, the way she writes her ‘blog posts’, I am yet to find any blogger write that way, and I have been reading blogs for quite a while); I would say that a lot of times her ramblings read less like that of a newly widowed woman immersed in terrible grief and more like the diary of an onlooker who has been a silent spectator of all the events that had unfolded in front of her .

So I had a hard time connecting with the ‘grief’ of Liz. The queer writing style of Liz, however, teaches you about the kind of distance and sense detachment that exists between bloggers and their readers: “Still there? Wow, impressive. Or maybe you’re one of those people who likes to watch car crashes or something. I’m sorry, dear reader. I don’t even know you, and here I am insulting you.”

The savior of the book, however, are the dialogs which are absolutely realistic and each dialog is written in a way that ensures that they fit the character well. There is no cheesy line or corniness involved (as is the case with a lot of books in the genre):

““You busy?” I asked, putting the phone on Speaker, while I futzed around with my belongings.

“Never for you, dearest Liz. How are you? It’s been ages since I’ve actually heard your voice.””

The ensuing telephone exchange is indeed one of the most realistic pieces in the entire novel!

There is plenty of humor too in the novel; indeed Liz’s character seems to be a bit too jolly at times, thanks to her therapist of course who taught her that “there is no specific timeline for being a widow.”:

“We bonded over a spilled Shirley Temple (my fault). She came to my rescue, and, in gratitude (she also gave me some helpful hints), I bought her lunch (Dinner? Early breakfast? It was 3:00 a.m.) in thanks. Our friendship was further cemented when we ordered the exact same thing—a tuna melt with fries! On paper, we were different—different races, different ages, different backgrounds”

In a way you do feel happy for her, that she’s been able to move on with her life and find the little things that make her happy:

“Turns out, I was practically around the corner from Rodeo Drive and splurged on a fantastic gown.”

In a way, the book is quite interesting overall; if only you forget that you are reading ‘blog posts’ (because the writing style makes the entries look like anything but; yet I find Liz’s style so interesting that I wish that indeed at least a few of the real life female bloggers wrote like her) and that those ‘blog posts’ are written by a grieving widow (I did not quite find the signs of grief that I had expected in Liz), I think that you are going to enjoy the book. The story is simple enough, written in lucid prose that flows really well. Recommended for a cozy weekend afternoon read.

Leave a Reply