Monday, April 20, 2015
Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah & Skye Chatham
Read Bottom Up is the recounting of a modern love story. Madeline is in the publishing industry while Elliot is a chef. They meet in the city where they both live and have some friends in common. As is common in this digital age, the courtship progresses with the use of text messages, Instagram and emails. What the reader sees, that the couple does not, is what each individual is thinking behind the electronic messages they are sending.
Both Madeline and Elliot copy their messages and the other's responses to their best friends. They ask their friends to interpret the meaning of various phases and how committed they think the person is to the relationship. Nothing is kept back from their friends and every date and word is parsed and mined for data.
While each person in the relationship believes the other is committed, the reader hears about the other people each is pursuing on the side and gets a real feel for how tenuous the relationship is. Both seem more interested in appearing cool and with-it than looking for ways to increase their intimacy. Rather than jumping headlong into promises, each person attempts to position themselves so that they appear unconcerned. As one might expect, the entire affair follows an expected trajectory; initial interest, deepening commitment, then stalling, then distancing, then ending. The reader is taken along for the entire ride and knows more about the entire relationship than either of the participants.
Neel Shah and Skye Chatham have written a breezy, interesting story that delves into love and relationships in the digital age. Interestingly, one author lives in Los Angeles while the other is located in New York and they collaborated using the same mechanisms as the couple in the book use for their courting. When everything is out for the world to parse, it is difficult to build a committed connection to another person. Intimacy and love grows in an atmosphere where the couple is in a bubble where the other person is everything. One can't be cool and contained and falling head over heels in love at the same time. While interesting, the reader turns the last page sorry for the participants and the state of love which is forced to grow under a microscope these days. This book is recommended for readers of fiction that explores relationships and that attempts to explain the mysteries of love.