Girls' Poker Night
Take Bridget Jones, add some (dare I say it?) maturity, subtract
none of the zany humor, and you'll have Ruby Capote, the heroine
and narrator of GIRLS' POKER NIGHT.
Ruby, a humor columnist, begins by recounting her desertion of her
Boston boyfriend Doug, a nice-enough guy who collects bread bag
twists. "…one time we were playing Frisbee and this dog came
over and looked as if he was going to bite my face off if I didn't
give him the Frisbee --- and Doug rescued me. I thought, yeah,
maybe we could get married. But how many dogs do you meet like
So she sends a bunch of her newspaper columns to a New York editor
and lands a job at The New York News. Michael, the editor,
turns out to be handsome and funny. They kiss in the elevator. They
have awkward coffee dates. It's obvious Michael and Ruby are
falling for each other, but Ruby has some growing up to do first.
Michael praises her work but tells her it could be better if only
she'd reveal something of herself. Ruby knows she's a shy person
who writes to keep people at a distance. She knows she runs away
from intimacy. And she keeps doing both --- and we don't care ---
as long as she keeps writing about her wacko friends, who get
together each week to play poker.
There's Skorka, the home-wrecking model, so beautiful that she can
drink tequila straight from the bottle, massacre the English
language and slow dance with herself. There's Meg, perfect Meg,
who's thinking about leaving her perfect husband. And Lily, who
finally figures out the reason she hasn't cared much for sex is
that she's been trying it with the wrong gender.
Then at the office there's Smelly Fred; and Larry, who turns
against Ruby when he thinks she's stolen his coffee mug; and, of
course, Michael, who starts out looking so good but turns out to
have a secret of his own, one that Ruby could easily use to push
him right out of her life.
Ms. Davis used to write for David Letterman, and it shows. The book
consists of short pieces, with titles like "A Bad Case of
Dumb-Ass," clever riffs about childhood memories interspersed with
current plot lines about Michael and accounts of Ruby's sessions
with her crafty therapist Ella. The vignettes are off-the-wall,
subtle, funny and bittersweet. The spare style works especially
well for the more painful revelations that begin in the middle of
the book. Because Ruby really does want to grow up. But to do so
she has to confront her pain over the loss of her father, first by
divorce, then by car accident (that some say was suicide). After
all that she's lost, she has to learn to choose risk.
In the end, GIRLS' POKER NIGHT is more than just funny. It's also
very moving. Ruby achieves a true transformation, and incidentally,
gets the guy. By the time she goes to see Randy, a chubby, gay,
Jewish psychic who's been with his boyfriend for 32 years, you'll
find yourself agreeing with her. "The world is sweet, kinda whether
you like it or not."
Reviewed by Eileen Zimmerman Nicol (firstname.lastname@example.org) on January 22, 2011
Girls' Poker Night
- Publication Date: February 19, 2002
- Genres: Fiction
- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Random House
- ISBN-10: 0375505148
- ISBN-13: 9780375505140