Saturday, September 19, 2015
Book Review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
Author: Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
Enjoyment Rating: ***
Content Alert: Holy cow, I must be getting old, because it seemed like every other word in this book was the f-word. And if the title didn't clue you in, this book is basically all about sex.
Comedian Aziz Ansari and sociologist Eric Klinenberg look at the ways that dating and falling in love have changed in the modern era, focusing a lot on how technology (texting, online dating, tinder, and the like) and a prolonged period of early adulthood have changed relationships. Much of the research for this book was collected during Ansari's standup routines over the last few years.
First of all, the content of the book is fascinating. I met my husband in 1993, when we were both freshmen in college, and we got married in 1997, about a week before I got my first cell phone. It's amazing to me that although I'm not all that much older than Ansari, my dating experience could not have been more different. Ed and I met when we were eighteen, decided we liked each other, and the rest was history. According to Ansari, dating is a lot more complicated than that now, and social media and online dating muddy the waters and add some anxiety to what is, for many, an already anxious process. Ansari actually had members of the audience come up on stage and read their texts from potential romantic partners to the audience so everyone could give them feedback on subtle messages and subtext. Brilliant, right?
I've spent the summer watching Parks and Recreation, at the request of my teenage daughter. Unlike Annie, who is on her third watch of the show and can bust through an entire season in a weekend, I'm a little slower. I'm halfway through season four, and I go through phases where I adore Tom Haverford and where I loathe Tom Haverford, played by Aziz Ansari. I know that Tom Haverford and Aziz Ansari are not the same person, but in Modern Romance, I got the sense that Aziz Ansari is someone Tom Haverford would like to become, if he could get out of Pawnee, Indiana and into standup comedy clubs all over the world. I guess what I'm saying here is that I think I would have liked Modern Romance better if it had a little less Tom Haverford in it. A little less smooth music, a little less jokeyness, a little less f-bomb. The dating stuff? Fascinating. But Ansari plays the audiobook with a very heavy hand.