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High Maintenance by Jennifer Belle
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High Maintenance

by Jennifer Belle

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3081056,249 (3.22)1
National Bestseller The story of an obsessive love affair between a woman and an apartment. The publication of her sexy, offbeat, riotous first novel, Going Down, won Jennifer Belle comparisons from everyone from Dorothy Parker and Lorrie Moore to J. D. Salinger and Liz Phair. In High Maintenance, Belle is back with another brilliantly twisted New York story that is as funny, sad, painful, ridiculous, wild, daring, and lovable as its predecessor. Set in the manic world of New York real estate, High Maintenance is the story of Liv Kellerman, a young woman who's just left her husband and, more important, their fabulous penthouse apartment with its Empire State Building view. On her own for the first time in her life, she relocates to a crumbling Greenwich Village hovel and contemplates her next move. Before long she finds her true calling: selling real estate. With her native eye for prime properties and an ability to lie with a straight face, Liv finds success and soon is swimming with the sharks-the hardcore, cutthroat brokers who'll do anything to close a deal. Along the way she picks up a maniacally ardent architect who likes to bite her, a few hilarious bosses, strange and exasperating clients, and a gun, and brings them with her on her search for the one thing she's really after: a home. Belle's gift for creating strange and winning characters and her acute observations of both the absurd and the poignant in everyday life are the hallmarks of her fiction. High Maintenance is generous and unsparing, tough and exciting and terrifically smart--a hot new property on the market.  … (more)

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A wry look at life from a newly divorced woman in NYC (of course) who turns to real estate as a method of supporting herself. Not the best chick lit I've ever read, but amusing. ( )
  wareagle78 | Mar 22, 2014 |
When I first started reading this, I thought it was stupid and random. But after a few pages you are anxious to see what surprise is next. Her one liners are hilarious, like, " I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole" and "go fly a kite" I didn't care for the use of swear (sex) terms, but could identify with it! ( )
  camplakejewel | Oct 29, 2013 |
Jennifer Belle's High Maintenance is an acquired taste. With caustic wit, ridiculous scenarios, over-the-top and unbelievably snarky characters and a plot that flows as a true love letter to New York, her novel sometimes feels like an acid trip. While reading, the word "odd" kept popping in my head. But in a good way, I guess.

What really struck me about High Maintenance is its definite sense of place and time. Set in a pre-9/11 world, Belle's passages about the New York skyline are jarring. We're dealing with a world largely saved from the Internet boom, too, and "e-mail" is still a foreign concept to this strange group. It's funny to think this book, first published in 2001, is already so dated. That setting made me nostalgic.

Liv herself is an enigma. She seems to alternate between hating Andrew and desperately wanting to be loved by Andrew, and Andrew himself seems like a borderline psychopath. While I didn't find him appealing in the least, her exploits with him were entertaining. In fact, that's how I would describe High Maintenance as a whole: wildly entertaining.

It's about attempting to find a place of permanence in an impermanent world. About carving out a little shell in which to reside and holding steadfastly to that sense of "home." It asks questions about whether a home is defined by people, location or things, and also reminds us that our own sense of place is fleeting. Everything changes. By the close of the story, Liv realizes her need to truly begin anew . . . and that's something with which many of us can relate.

Because Belle's sense of humor might not appeal to all readers, I'd recommend High Maintenance to those who enjoy vibrant characters, a deadpan writing style and witty commentary on what it means to live and covet life in New York. The city itself operates as another character entirely, and it's easy to understand why the Big Apple holds such enormous appeal. Liv knows that, too. ( )
  writemeg | Jan 10, 2012 |
Reading this novel was a strange experience for me. Looking at the cover - I expected a run of the mill (read sub-par) chick lit book. What I got was part pulpy fiction and part - really unexpected.

The characters and situations in this novel start out very familiar. Typical chick lit fodder - but just when you get comfortable (again and again) the novel takes really strange turns - the characters make wacky decisions and the situations sometimes border on the bizarre. That being said - somehow the author was able to string it all together and keep me interested and flipping pages.

I liked it - it wasn't like anything I have read before - and that is a really fun thing to encounter unexpectedly. ( )
  alanna1122 | Aug 24, 2010 |
Really charming vacation read. ( )
  Schmoopy | Dec 14, 2009 |
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Epigraph
O! I have bought the mansion of love, But not possess'd it, and, though I am sold, Not yet enjoy'd . . . William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, III, 2
Dedication
For Andrew Krents
First words
The morning before I was planning to leave my husband, my friend Violet convinced me to go with her to see a swami in someone's townhouse.
Quotations
There were framed black-and-white photographs of old New York on the walls. One was of the downtown skyline before the World Trade Center was built. It was like looking in the mirror as a child and finding two teeth missing.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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