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Late Night Talking    by Leslie Schnur order for
Late Night Talking
by Leslie Schnur
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Leslie Schnur, who made a delightful debut in The Dog Walker, brings us another quirky, feel-good story, full of amusing digs into the fallacies of modern Western society, in Late Night Talking. Her thirty-something heroine Jeannie Sterling is brash yet vulnerable, full of contradictions. In some ways the typical New Yorker, Jeannie was raised by a hippie mother in a commune and they were both deserted by her father, leaving her an emotional mess.

Jeannie's job doesn't help her to connect with others in any real way. She lives in Tribeca and is the star of a night-time radio talk show, Sterling Behavior, that targets rude and inconsiderate acts ... like using a cell phone while at the urinal in the office bathroom. On the show with Jeannie is her best friend Luce, who's also her 'producer-slash-sidekick' and 'the yin to Jeannie's yang'. Though she believes in people's essential goodness, Jeannie is judgmental, confrontational, and sure of herself. She's always ready to take issue with the 'ethically challenged' - which results in her first encounter with the gorgeous (though middle aged) multi-billionaire Nicholas Moss, whom she later calls a Turkey in a Hummer (he'd borrowed a friend's) on her show.

Highly irritated and unable to get Jeannie out of his mind, Moss buys the WBUZ station and becomes Jeannie's ultimate boss, pushing her show in a new direction. At the same time, Jeannie's relationship to her college best friend Tommy (a foreign reporter for the Times) heads into new and welcome territory. It seems there's something on Luce's mind that she's not sharing with her best friend. And to complicate Jeannie's life further, her vagabond dad shows up for a brief visit, discusses his funeral plans with her, and leaves behind a mongrel dog named Mouse, who chews her Marc Jacobs bag - not to mention her underwear - but is awfully cute.

Leslie Schnur weaves all these threads together into colorful patterns - some predictable and others not - in a life tapestry. There's a love triangle in the mix, as well as friendships broken and renewed, and a belated resolution to an unhappy father-daughter relationship. The novel also incorporates important lessons about acting with compassion and tolerance for others, as ethical avenger Jeannie discovers that her own behavior isn't always sterling. I enjoyed Late Night Talking just as much as The Dog Walker, and recommend both as absorbing reads that are tons of fun.

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