Book Review

Mini(bot) Rants: The Last Girlfriend on Earth

The Silver Kiss wasn’t the only flop I read at the end of last year.

The Last Girlfriend on Earth by Simon Rich
My Edition: Paperback – 213 pages – 2014 – Back Bay Books – ISBN: 9780316219389

This is a “humorous” collection of shorts about love and relationships. The funniest thing is that the back of the book says: “In thirty short, sharp, ingenious stories, Rich conjures up some unforgettable romances…as enchanting, sweet, and absurd as love itself, these stories are Simon Rich’s valentine to readers, an irresistible collection of delights. All that’s missing is the heart-shaped box.”

Oh boy! All I have to say to that is, it’s a good thing I took notes or I wouldn’t be able to comment on a single one of these stories, and if this book were to be transformed into a box of chocolates I’d chuck it in the bin.

Thirty stories are a lot, but thankfully for my sanity, they’re all incredibly brief. I picked this book up at some used bookstore because I liked the cover and I figured it would be funny. It definitely didn’t hit that mark for me; I think I enjoyed probably less than a handful of the thirty.

After a few stories, my notes were: Is this book all about men being horny?
Will the female characters all suck because they’re written by a man?

I think the answer to those questions is yes. But I will say, I’m in the minority, as I skimmed Goodreads and most reviewers seemed to find this funny, regardless of their gender. I like to think I have a decent sense of humor, but I couldn’t help but feel this was a book written for dudes to laugh about how women and relationships be crazy.

The stories I found funny were:

  • The one about the condom in some guy’s wallet – mostly because of the perspective and how “everyone’s” names were what object they were like Hundred and Jamba Juice Value Card.
  • The one where guys enjoy being complimented so much and are so determined to have sex that they’ll knowingly die at the hands of a siren just for a chance.
  • The one where your friends genuinely think that dating a literal troll would be good for you.

Otherwise, this was an odd collection where it really felt more like after each story, Rich was there elbowing me and wiggling his eyebrows saying, “Man, women sure are crazy and controlling, amiright? And dudes, we’re so horny and just want casual sex, no matter the cost, amiright?” With more eyebrow wiggling.

And I’m sitting here thinking, “Am I really that uptight?” With the story about men going through Scared Straight, but for long-term relationships, is it supposed to be funny because some men are so outlandishly scared of commitment, or is it supposed to be relatable to men who think that way? Should I be insulted? Or the story where a couple goes to therapy and the doctor is lying and humoring the woman, then afterward explains to the man that she’s actually a robot who can be reprogrammed. Is it funny because it’s ridiculous? Or is it reasonable that I’m annoyed because some men don’t take therapy seriously enough and would probably love to reprogram their partners to be subservient? How about the message from the title story, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, that petty jealousy actually strengthens relationships? Should I have laughed at that?

Most of the stories felt more like ideas than developed stories – like the troll one for example. I can imagine Rich thinking to himself, “Man, it would be funny if your friends thought you should date a troll – like not an internet troll, but a real troll.” And then slapping a few words on the page. The stories seemed to have similar punchlines too.

I’m clearly not the target audience for this book. I wonder, if this book were gender-swapped and if men were primarily the butt of these…jokes, for lack of a better word…would I find that funny? It’s hard to say. Regardless, I won’t be picking up any more of Rich’s work.

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