Pat, a 63 year old former geophysicist, desperate for romance, believes the only way to find a good woman on the Internet is to meet lots of them. He numbers them since he remembers names poorly. Beth, #57, goes out of town for a long time so he takes … see full wiki
Pat Muir's THE NUMBERS MAN Is "Conversationally Yours"
I've always thought that romantic comedies are a hard sell. While romance tends to be fairly universal across all cultures (who doesn't want to fall in love?), comedies are a much harder nut to crack. One person's joke is another person's groan, but Pat Muir effectively straddles the middle ground (pun intended) in his coming-of-late-middle-age romantic comedy, THE NUMBERS MAN.
Pat is a former geophysicist turned author who, out of habit, relies more on his scientific ways - playing effective odds - to find himself a new soul mate, but, despite the fact that he's met nearly sixty of them through internet dating, he still can't seem to find one that'll stick. In between his dates, he's also trying to turn his second book - an advice tome for the single man eating quickly - into an overnight success story. He's drawn to Beth, though she can't quite seem to complete a thought of her own. He's intrigued by Donna, though this attorney clearly intends on wearing the legal pants in the possible family. He's infuriated by Joyce, a TV chef with not so much a heart-of-gold as she has a steely reserve keeping all men at a distance. Throw into the mix a former hairdresser with the body of a Vegas showgirl, and Pat runs the risk of losing his sanity! But, rest assured: somewhere between the ladies numbered 57, 59, and 61, a good man knows when he's on to a good thing.
Like any romantic comedy, NUMBERS ends up being a character study told largely through the conversations these people have, and that plays to the author's strength. Everything sounds authentic, almost leading me to wonder if the book was initially crafted as a screenplay. While a few moments flirt with the cliché (such as an older man's insecurity about sexual performance or an older woman's fastidiousness with details), Muir manages to instill everything with a freshness and a sense of humor while watching it all through the eyes of his immensely likeable main character - himself!
Also, Muir's prose reminded me a great bit of some of Woody Allen's earlier prose (short story collections, mostly). These characters get defined (and ultimately end up either `winning' or `losing') by their traits. Just as Pat tries to maintain an accurately scientific approach to solving the mathematical problems of his love life, Beth remains driven by the intricacies of ruminating over every possible detail before making a decision. Just as Donna lives her life via the clinical legal detachment she employs every day as an attorney, Joyce insists on approaching every encounter or endeavor in her life via the method of executing the perfect recipe. Life is a bit out of sorts for all of these people - everything remains just a bit off-center thanks largely to the way they've educated themselves to function in the world.
Thankfully, Muir proves - once again - that it's never too late to find love, and, as is so often the case, you'll find it waiting where you least expect it.
In the interests of fairness, I'm happy to disclose that the author provided me with a copy of THE NUMBERS MAN to facilitate this review.