Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. has been favorably compared to Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City (1985) as a portrayal of the contemporary New York City literary scene. McInerney himself drew the comparison when he sat down with Waldman in Barnes & Noble. Waldman, like the literary scene itself, focuses her story in Brooklyn. Though intentionally obscured, the novel unfolds unmistakingly in Fort Greene and Crown Heights. Amidst the rapid gentrification, Nathaniel (Nate) finds himself dating fellow freelance writer Hannah. Over the course of the novel, Nate’s inaction and apathy leads to the eventual unraveling of their relationship. At the most fundamental level, Nathaniel P. is the story of two people gradually allowing distance to taint their relationship.
Much is the same premise with Paul Rome’s We All Live In The Same Room. Narrator Tom lives with Raina and their son, Ben, in, as the title suggests, a one bedroom apartment. Its rent controlled, of course. Despite sharing the small space, like the characters of Waldman’s novel, Tom and Raina spend the duration of the story drifting ever farther away from each other. Though Tom and Raina are more proactive about hurting each other than Nate and Hannah, ultimately they are all victims of emotional unforseen emotional distance. Given the similarities, the two authors form an ideal pairing, and NYU Bookstore brought them together for a discussion moderated by Paul Morris of Pen America.