The Last Blind Date by Linda Yellin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Goodreads: A fun, charming memoir about a woman who falls in love, packs her bags, and starts over in the city that eats its young.
My take: As a general rule, memoirs irritate me. It's the lack of objectivity and the natural inclination to paint oneself as a heroine or use self-deprecating humor that still paints oneself as a heroine. I also tire of histrionics and airing other people's dirty laundry. I have found only a very few authors who have been able to write with enough objectivity while maintaining their own humanity that I have become a believer in some memoirs. This is one of them. (The other is Glass Castles by Jeannette Walls).
Linda Yellin is hilarious without sacrificing herself or others close to her in the name of writing a book. This is her story that brushes over her first marriage and what she gained from it then begins the real story a few years before she met Randy Arthur, her New York vice.
Linda starts as a single,thirty-something year old Chicagoan who had her niche carved out when she and Randy met up. He was going through a divorce and was trying to give his children as much normalcy as possible while he and their mother split. It's the story of their long courtship, wedding, and how a midwesterner learns how to survive and adapt in New York City.
What so few memoirists have accomplished is completed in this work of glory. How could Linda have the self-confidence to write about her insecurities of Randy comparing her Linda legs with his ex-wife's long, beautiful legs? She wrote about her first job in New York where she was underqualified and underloved. Never does she get into the finer points of who is right or wrong. She simply tells the story with enough humor that, even though it was a painful experience, it is incredibly funny.
My favorite part was about the gym. She joins a gym and describes the experience which sounds vaguely familiar in the back of my mind. I have a gym membership but I don't go. Once she finished the description, I realized why I don't go to the gym. The reason is clearly explained in the book but I can only sum it up in two words: High School. Wow. A shiver of terror just ran through my body.
I absolutely LOVED the chapters that included her parents then Randy's parents. They are the epitome of Jewish parents. As if I'd know. The only Jew I personally knew in the state of Utah moved to Alaska fifteen years ago. I think they closed the synagogue soon after. Still, the conversations are better than the best Seinfeld, and I loved Jerry's and George's parents.
Speaking of Linda's Jewishness, she writes with absolute beauty and amazing humor how she came to love her heritage and religious upbringing. In Chicago you keep your non-Christian roots a secret. In New York, Yom Kippur was sung by Broadway performers. Her response cracked me up. Also reminded me of my brother-in-law's response when he moved to Utah. He kept pointing out the churches he saw. They were on every corner, he surmised. We had to explain the demographics of the state to him. It took all of 30 seconds. So he married himself a nice woman from the Republic of Georgia and they found an Orthodox Christian church downtown. There's only one in the state.
But in New York, Linda found herself surrounded by Kosher foods, synagogues, Hasidic Jews and otherwise. She celebrated all of her holidays without feeling self-conscious. She also learned the subway system, how to pronounce "roof" and how to walk without getting mugged. Figured out how to be married and find friends. I want to be her friend after reading this book but her publicist has something against providing personal information to weird stalkers or some crazy talk like that. Whatever. Her loss.
Loved the book.