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I Regret Everything: A Love Story by Seth…
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I Regret Everything: A Love Story

by Seth Greenland

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A tragic love storyset in contemporary NYC that interleaves the narrative between the two lovers. One of the two is a poet and carries quite a bit of poetry and relevant musings about poetry and meaning and life. I found this not compelling but I was happy to have read it. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
I am woefully late with this review. I finished reading it quite a while ago and am having to write this review from what lingers, more than a month later.

The novel alternates between Jeremy Best, a trusts and estates attorney who writes poetry under a pen name, and Spaulding Simonson, a 19-year old aspiring writer fresh from a stint in a mental hospital, as a friendship develops between them. In the span of about 250 pages, Greenland tackles unlikely love, work versus vocation, poetry, mortality, and the complicated tangle of family in a quirky, bright, and occasionally snarky manner.

Jeremy wants to write but he's also very good at his job. When the pretty and appealingly odd Spaulding -- daughter of his boss -- shows up in his doorway, his natural inclination is to put her off. But Spaulding -- who has been put off by everyone in her life -- is determined to get Jeremy's attention, especially when she discovers he's a well-regarded poet.

I will admit, when it became clear there was to be a romance between our 30-something hero and the 19-year old heroine, I initially couldn't stop a Liz Lemon-esque eye roll and "Oh, brother!". But once I got that out of my system, I found I didn't mind the burgeoning, awkward will-they-won't-they; both Jeremy and Spaulding were flawed creatures and faced intriguing obstacles, both of their own invention and from the people around them.

Greenland is a playwright and novelist who is also the producer and writer for HBO's Big Love, and the kind of bittersweet, dark humor that I've seen in the show also permeates (delightfully) this novel. His writing style differs between Jeremy and Spaulding, and while I didn't completely buy his articulation of a 19-year old woman, I loved his sheepish, creative, and conflicted Jeremy:

The field of trusts and estates presents ample opportunity for outright larceny. As clients are overtaken by the myriad indignities of age their minds will often cloud and the wily attorney, if endowed with a soupcon of unscrupulousness, can, with the mere adjustment of a comma, redirect amounts of money the size of the night sky. This was never my approach because greed is the lease attractive of the deadly sins. The truth is, I had never done anything that could remotely be construed as unethical much less illicit. (p146)

A fast read, accessible and fun, and perfect for the summer. A little knowing, a little sad, a lovely mix of literary and fluffy. For those new to Europa Editions, this is a great introduction to the kind of sophisticated, compelling stuff they release. ( )
  unabridgedchick | May 13, 2015 |
This was a a truly unique read. This is why I love reviewing – I’m presented with opportunities to read books I’d never buy when wandering around a bookstore. I’ve had some amazing experiences with novels that I would have just walked on by because I only had so much money to spend and so I spent it in familiar arenas. I’m not even sure where I Regret Everything fits – it’s a literary read so I’d have surely passed it by just for that. In doing that I would have missed a very enjoyable tale.

Jeremy Best is a lawyer but he hides a passion – he’s a poet. He’d rather be writing all the time but it’s not to be. He keeps his second identity well hidden from his colleagues until one day the managing partner’s daughter wanders into his office asking him about writing poetry. He wonders how she found him out but he is also very intrigued.

Spaulding Simonson is a child floating between her divorced parents, neither of which really wants her. She has been troublesome and is recently out of a stint in a mental hospital for reasons she doesn’t even understand. She and Jeremy find themselves attracted to each other but to call this book a romance is to do it a disservice. The characters are too real and too unreal all at the same time to live in any kind of world I could understand.

The writing is exceptional and just draws you in with clever turns of phrase and some very interesting twists. Mr. Greenland used to write for Big Love so he knows how to spin a yarn. This was not a really long book and in some ways I really wished it had gone on longer because I was sorry to leave these characters and their world. I’ll be keeping this one to read again. ( )
  BrokenTeepee | Mar 9, 2015 |
Seth Greenland was a writer-producer on one of my favorite TV shows, Big Love, so when I heard that he had a recently published novel, I Regret Everything- A Love Story, I had to read it.

Jeremy Best is a 33 year-old trust and wills attorney in Manhattan. If that sounds like a boring job, he also writes poems under the name Jinx Bell, which doesn't sound like a poet's name to me, but it works for him.

He has minor success as a poet, and he is very good at his day job. So good that that the managing partner wants to offer him an early partnership, if he can settle a pesky matter with one of their biggest clients.

Spaulding Simonson is the nineteen-year-old daughter of said managing partner. She wanders into Jeremy's office and begins a conversation. The two have an immediate spark, and their banter is endearing. Spaulding is an intriguing young woman, and she is impressed that Jeremy is a poet.

Spaulding had a serious nervous breakdown and she has problems with her divorced parents. Neither of them really want her around, and after a fighter with her mother, she ends up living with her father's new family in suburban Connecticut.

I Regret Everything starts off strong right away with a great first paragraph, and doesn't let go from there. The language is poetic, as befits a novel about a part-time poet. And as befits a screenwriter and playwright, the writing is also compact. There are no wasted words here, no long-winded descriptions of people or place.

And yet, the characters and storyline are well-drawn. We understand fully who Jeremy and Spaulding are, and watching their relationship develop is enjoyable. After dreaming that he killed a Minotaur, Jeremy describes himself:
"The dream made no literal sense because I was a coward, incapable of attacking anyone with a cutting remark, much less a blunt object."
Spaulding loved poems that rhymed because "it was a representation of order in the universe and that was something (she) craved." So Spaulding was attracted to Jeremy's poetry and Jeremy was intrigued by Spaulding's daring.

As circumstances throw them together, they are faced with obstacles (or else this wouldn't be a love story). The obstacles are serious enough to force them to really evaluate what they want in life.

I Regret Everything is a modern-day love story that feels like a classic romantic novel. I loved both Jeremy and Spaulding, and if you are a fan of classic novels like Jane Eyre, you will love I Regret Everything. And contrary to Jeremy's motto "never give in", I urge you to give in to this lovely story. ( )
  bookchickdi | Feb 27, 2015 |
We are all just struggling through life. We face disappointments and loss and regrets. We do things that don't feed out souls, things that feed our bodies instead. But sometimes, in life, we find people who are our anchors. People who give our lives meaning, who contribute to our well being, and who face us undaunted by or unafraid of our meager, and ultimately unimportant, failings. These are the people we love. What if that person turned out to be the teenaged daughter of your boss or was the thirty year old employee of your father? What then? In Seth Greenland's smart new novel, I Regret Everything: A Love Story, this is who his characters are: characters who make us a little uncomfortable, characters who show us how to live life despite the disappointments, losses, and regrets.

Jeremy Best is a thirty year old lawyer specializing in trusts and estates. When he was younger and more idealistic, he didn't want to be a lawyer; he wanted to be a poet. And he is still a poet, having published several critically acclaimed poems as Jinx Bell, but even poets have to eat and lawyers certainly eat better than poets. Jeremy is alone in the world and has never managed to sustain a relationship in his life but he's a really decent, nice guy. Spaulding Simonson walks into his office one morning, having discovered his poet persona. She is the nineteen year old, troubled daughter of his boss. She is a child of privilege but missing a solid person in her life on whom she can depend. She has literary aspirations of her own and there's a touch of disguised hero worship in her initial actions with Jeremy. Telling any more would ruin the book.

Jeremy and Spaulding's interactions are tightly and beautifully written. Their growing relationship (and make no mistake, this is no romance novel) is complex and organic. The novel alternates between Jeremy and Spaulding's first person narration so that each stage of their slowly unfolding knowledge of the other is tempered by their own wry self-awareness, adding not only to the reader's understanding of the other character but also to the fullness of the narrating character. The novel is subtly funny and even when it could degenerate into the realm of the maudlin, it deftly avoids that trap. It is tender and poetic and inevitable and it captures so well the dichotomy of guilt and desire. This is a love story, a mortality play, and an intelligent examination of life. We all have regrets; it is a function of living, but reading this is not one of them. ( )
  whitreidtan | Feb 23, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 160945247X, Paperback)

A modern love story, I Regret Everything confronts the oceanic uncertainty of what it means to be alive, and in love. Jeremy Best, a Manhattan-based trusts and estates lawyer, leads a second life as published poet Jinx Bell.  To his boss’s daughter, Spaulding Simonson, at 33 years old, Jeremy is already halfway to dead.  When Spaulding, an aspiring 19-year-old writer, discovers Mr. Best’s alter poetic ego, the two become bound by a devotion to poetry, and an awareness that time in this world is limited.  Their budding relationship strikes at the universality of love and loss, as Jeremy and Spaulding confront their vulnerabilities, revealing themselves to one another and the world for the very first time.
 
A skilled satirist with a talent for biting humor, Greenland creates fully realized characters that quickly reveal themselves as complex renderings of the human condition – at its very best, and utter worst. I Regret Everything explores happiness and heartache with a healthy dose of skepticism, and an understanding that the reality of love encompasses life, death, iambic pentameter, regret, trusts and estates.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:44 -0400)

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