Feature

Also of interest...in romance deciphered

I Do and I Don’t
by Jeanine Basinger (Knopf, $30)
Jeanine Basinger’s study of marriage in the movies is “never less than fascinating,” said Sara Vilkomerson in Entertainment Weekly. Deconstruct-ing a century of cinema, from pre–World War I slapstick to 2010’s The Kids Are All Right, the film historian identifies many of the tropes Hollywood relies on in depicting marriage and finds today’s screenwriters increasingly willing to give love stories ambiguous endings. The result is a “thoroughly entertaining” lesson in history and pop psychology.

Love in the Time of Algorithms
by Dan Slater (Current, $26)
The rise of computer-based matchmaking provides “rich anthropological loam” for journalist Dan Slater, said Philip Delves Broughton in The Wall Street Journal. Beginning with an early Match.com prototype (a 1964 system invented by a forlorn Harvard undergrad), Slater explores how romance has been transformed by technology—creating previously impossible happy endings but also encouraging groups of American men to go shopping for wives in distant, impoverished lands. 

The Last Girlfriend on Earth
by Simon Rich (Reagan Arthur, $20)
Some of the 30 humorous short tales in Simon Rich’s new collection are “all punch line,” said Mythili Rao in TheDailyBeast.com. The male in a coed astronaut team proposes a study on the effects of zero gravity on human mating; dogs search for their soul mates through Craigslist’s “missed connections” service. But even when some of Rich’s sketches about the quest for love touch messier emotions, there’s “an endearing simplicity” about his outlook. Love, in his world, is still capable of conquering all.

Prosperous Friends
by Christine Schutt (Grove/Atlantic, $24)
In Christine Schutt’s third novel, the gradual dissolution of a marriage is chronicled in “terse sentences that read like poetry,” said Rosanna Xia in the Los Angeles Times. So austere is the language that much of what’s come to divide a vain writer and his depressed wife goes unexplained. But by cutting from one well-wrought scene to another, Schutt keeps the novel moving at a lively pace as the characters come to understand the divide between self-image and the things that each has done.

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