Run Catch Kiss

Harper’s Bazaar

July 1999

Books: “Down and Dirty” – by Lucinda Rosenfeld

For all its ’90s-style kvetching about fat deposits and “fuckwittage,” Helen Fielding’s now infamous Bridget Jones’s Diary end with the kind of plucky, upbeat note that Jane Austen herself would have loved. But on the heels of all that charmingly neurotic girl talk and binge drinking, a crop of first-time fiction writers are painting a grittier picture of contemporary male-female relations. The results are both surreal and all too real. If Bridget was the woman we could all relate to, the romantic antiheroines of this new batch of books are the women we have to keep convincing ourselves we haven’t yet become. And just as hearing about other people’s problems can make our own seem that much more benign, sometimes it’s simply more fun to read about sluts and sociopaths than singletons.

Twenty-five-year-old sex columnist Amy Sohn’s first novel, Run Catch Kiss (Simon & Schuster), is a case in point. Ostensibly a comic romp through the collective groin of New York City, the book chronicles a year in the life of Ariel Steiner, a pudgy young actress so desperate for attention that she’ll orally gratify and/or spread her legs for anything in pants – even if those pants belong to a sadistic pervert whose idea of nirvana is a quickie at Peep World. Steiner is ultimately rewarded for her trouble with a job as a (you guessed it) sex columnist for a downtown weekly. For all its laugh-out-loud lines about farting in bed, Run Catch Kiss is as depressing as it is funny. Or maybe it’s funny because it is so damn depressing. The book makes a highly entertaining read for the very reason that Sohn (via her thinly veiled alter ego) is willing to fess up to the kind of humiliating sexual depravity most of us simply would never reveal.