Dissecting a Book That Just Doesn't Get It
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013 16:02
Though the title may suggest otherwise — don’t worry, I was fooled, too — Daria Snadowsky’s Anatomy of a Single Girl is no upper-level anatomy textbook. Rather, it is the story of one of the great literary heroines of our time, a white college girl curiously named Dominique and even more curiously nicknamed "Coppertone." Despite the author’s airtight rationale ("She’s pale!"), I can’t help but feel as if "Banana Boat" would’ve made for a far better nickname if we were going for a sunscreen theme with this.
As the book begins, we find our girl Coppertone finishing up a summer session after her freshman year at Tulane. I immediately wonder if Coppertone realizes that her horribly unathletic school joining the Big East is what essentially spelled the end of our beloved conference. (She probably doesn't. Classic Coppertone.) In any case, we are quickly introduced to Calvin Brandon, Banana Boat's former RA whom she has friend-zoned into oblivion.
As it turns out, poor Calvin Brandon is a gosh darn saint, and Coppertone’s struggle to reconcile his charm with her seemingly nonsensical lack of feelings for him lies at the center of this legendary tale. In this respect, Snadowsky appears to employ a bit of underlying allegory, with Coppertone’s "Boy Story," if you will, running parallel to the United States’ involvement in the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. America’s hearts have long told us to support our allies in Israel, but what do our heads tell us in terms of geopolitical military pragmatism? How far are we willing to go if our heads and hearts are pulling us in different directions? This is the exact problem that Neutrogena faces with the ever-so-sensitive Calvin Brandon.
Enter Guy Davies, some random frat guy Aveeno meets interning at a hospital. Let’s call Guy the Iran parallel in this scenario. Or something else, maybe — I failed Map.
Hunky as hell, Davies is supposedly the whole package, as during their first meeting Coppertone has to fight her "compulsion to kiss him for sounding so erudite." Having known him for five minutes, she asks him out, and he says yes. Somewhere on the Tulane campus, Calvin’s head explodes.
Taking a more serious turn here, though, why Calvin would ever care so much about Banana Boat, frankly, I have no idea. She argues with her parents over literally everything for no reason, gets into a huge fight with Guy on their third date when she brings up the idea of marriage and later forces him to go to the doctor to be tested for every disease on the planet before she’ll agree to have sex with him. Romantic, I know.
Then there’s the fact that Coppertone’s entire self-worth is wrapped up in what this loser frat guy thinks of her. She hangs on his every word, such as his insightful explanation that "the human body is eons more advanced than any machine we can build" and his admission that he'd "give up sushi for good" if he could be as "badass" as Isaac Newton.
These Guy gems speak to what is perhaps Anatomy of a Single Girl’s biggest flaw: Snadowsky clearly has no idea what college kids are like. In fact, the book’s dialogue outside of Guy’s and Coppertone’s suggests that she really has no idea what people sound like in general. No one calls babysitting "bratsitting." And besides Managing Editor Victoria Edel — who as a 6-year-old took every chance to bother her brother Ralph — no one calls throwing up "ralphing" either. They just don’t.
Unless you’re named after a suntan lotion, of course, in which case you also probably spend time pondering things like "how many more penises I’ll have inside me in my lifetime."
Yes, by the way, I get that The Hoya’s sports editor is not exactly the right demographic for this book. But, to be perfectly honest, neither is anyone else.