April 13, 2005

BOOKS: Matchbook, Samantha Daniels (2005)

Daniels is the divorce lawyer-turned-matchmaker who inspired the short lived Alicia Silverstone TV series Miss Match, and this is her memoir of her first year or so in the business.

Now, I am not a huge fan of memoirs in general. I think too many people write memoirs and autobiographies when they haven't done anything remotely interesting enough to justify writing a book. (Keith's rule of thumb #17: Just because it happened doesn't mean it's interesting.)

But an inside look at the operations of a matchmaker (or, if we stick to Daniels' preferred orthography, a Matchmaker) is something we haven't seen before, and there's potential there for an interesting book.

Unfortunately, Matchbook is buried in a deep layer of contempt; Daniels doesn't really have any respect for her clients, or see them as anything other than a paycheck. Collectively, she refers to her clients as "Desperados;" individually, the pseudonyms she gives them refer to their most prominent physical feature (Miss Boobs, Mr. Teeth), their most superficial personality trait (Miss Interrupter, The Girl I Always Thought Hated Me), or the size of their bankbook (The Hundred Thousand Dollar Man).

These are, of course, precisely the sorts of things that she warns her clients not to base their dating decisions on. And Daniels isn't any kinder to the men she dates herself; the on-again, off-again boyfriend she briefly considers marrying is known to us as "Jerkoff."

If this is how she thinks of the people she works with and for, it's no wonder that her own dating life is such a mess, and it's a mystery how she manages to successfully pair off any of her clients. Matchbook is a nasty little piece of work.

(On one matter, I must praise Daniels: The boyfriends and clients she presents to us are composites, and she acknowledges that up front; too many memoir writers these days aren't so honest about the fact that some of their characters and conversations are actually fictionalized.)

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