Love Bomb is an inventive, mordantly funny novel about love, marriage, stalkers, and the indignities of parenthood.
In quaint Haddonfield, New Jersey, Tess is about to marry Gabe in her childhood home. Her mother, Helen, is in a panic about the guests, who include warring exes, crying babies, jealous girlfriends, and too many psychiatrists. But the most difficult guest was never on the list at all: a woman in a wedding dress and a gas mask, armed with a rifle, a bomb trigger strapped to her arm.
Lisa Zeidner’s audacious novel Love Bomb begins as a hostage drama and blossoms into a far-reaching tale about the infinite varieties of passion and heartbreak.
Who has offended this nutcase, and how? Does she seek revenge against the twice-divorced philanderer? Or is her agenda political—against the army general? Or the polygamous Muslim from Mali? While the warm, wise Helen attempts to bond with the masked woman and control the hysteria, the hostages begin to untangle what connects them to one another, and to their captor. But not until the SWAT team arrives does “the terrorist of love” unveil her real motives . . .
Critics have praised Lisa Zeidner’s prose for its “unforced edginess and power”; her fiction “shines with humor, wisdom, and poignancy.” In her most masterful novel yet, Zeidner gives us a tough yet tender social comedy, a romance with guts, a serious frolic written out of deep affection for all that it skewers.
About Lisa Zeidner
Lisa Zeidner has published four novels, including the critically acclaimed Layover, and two books of poems. Her stories, reviews, and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Slate, GQ, Tin House, and elsewhere. She directs the M.F.A. program in creative writing at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey.
The Nathanson-Billips nuptials are about to begin in the Haddonfield, N.J., home of bride Tess’ mother. A psychotherapist divorced from Tess’ psychiatrist father, Helen is already anxious about the wedding—rain has forced the garden party inside her cramped house and there are a number of guests who might not want to rub shoulders too closely, including ex-wives and jilted lovers. Then, a woman in a wedding dress and a gas mask arrives with a sawed-off shotgun, lots of ammo and a bomb. At first, the caterers and 55 guests assume she is part of the entertainment since Tess and groom Gabe, a biracial performance artist, like to be unconventional. But soon, the masked intruder has barricaded everyone together into one room, and she makes it obvious that her bullets are real. Still, the tone remains light, a comedy of manners about the unlikely mix locked in together: the five Jewish psychiatrists (including not only Tess’ father, but also Gabe’s Jewish maternal grandfather), Gabe’s macho/military African-American paternal grandfather, Tess’ two stepmothers and their problematic children, the African friends Tess and Gabriel made while working for Doctors Without Borders, Gabe’s actress sister and her more-famous-actor date, a catering assistant with a stalker. The novel’s strongest element is the individual hostages’ stories about failed love that emerge, both entertaining and sad. But actually, the hostage taking does not concern anyone in the wedding. In fact, the gunwoman, Crystal, has staged the event to get the attention of her former lover, Van, a member of the police SWAT team, whom she has been stalking since he unceremoniously dumped her. Unfortunately, her story is more cartoonish than satirical. – Kirkus Reviews
“Love Bomb” by Lisa Zeidner
The Washington Post Book Review – September 22, 2012 (Excerpt)
Lisa Zeidner writes smart, funny, irreverent but good-hearted novels about (mostly) nice people in the urban and suburban Northeast. Her characters are trying to keep their lives centered under circumstances over which they often have little or no control, circumstances that can leave them flailing about as matters proceed in ways totally unrelated to what they expect or want. “Love Bomb” is the fifth of these, the story of a wedding gone excruciatingly awry in which Zeidner affords herself the opportunity to toss well-aimed zingers this way and that while treating her characters with understanding, kindness and affection.
It occurs to me that one of the reasons I like Zeidner’s work so much is that, while it is very much her own, it occupies territory quite similar to that of Laurie Colwin, who wrote, uh, smart, funny, irreverent but good-hearted novels about (mostly) nice people in the urban Northeast. Colwin didn’t much care for the suburbs. Like Zeidner, Colwin knew Philadelphia and Manhattan well, and the upper-middle-class Jewish communities thereof, and had a sympathetic but unsparing eye for the people who entered the pages of her books. Zeidner has a wacky side that Colwin didn’t, but I find it every bit as appealing as Colwin’s wry side. [Read the full article...]
Shotgun Wedding Suburban Jungle
The New York Times Book Review – September 28, 2012 (Excerpt)
Do the self-satisfactions of the middle class and its rituals somehow prove irresistible to a novelist? Is it just too tempting to consider how a big social gathering might go disastrously wrong? Consider Ayelet Waldman’s “Red Hook Road,” in which a young couple meet a tragic end hours after taking their vows, or, in a more playful register, Ali Smith’s “There but for the,” which sends a dinner party spinning out of control when a guest locks himself in a room and refuses to leave. Lisa Zeidner’s funny, chaotic new novel, “Love Bomb,” is pitched in tone somewhere between Waldman’s and Smith’s: realistic in its depiction of sympathetic characters facing a crisis, while edgy in its satire of a well-off New Jersey suburb and its sometimes hapless police force.
The book’s first page replicates the invitation for the wedding that will unite Tess Nathanson and Gabriel Billips. Though pretty and proper, it also hints at the couple’s political sensibilities: “In lieu of gifts, the bride and groom encourage donations to Doctors Without Borders.” (Tess and Gabriel met in Mali, where they both worked for that organization.) Then Zeidner’s opening sentences — “The bride did not wear white. But the terrorist did” — throw us off course, as without further ceremony, we are plunged, like the unsuspecting guests, into a startling, near-surreal hostage situation. [Read the full article...]
THE SABRINA STRONG SERIES by LORELEI BELL