The Quality of Life Report

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9780142004432: The Quality of Life Report

Meghan Daum’s unforgettable debut novel brings her sharp wit and courageous social commentary to the story of Lucinda Trout, a New York television reporter in search of greener pastures. Moving to the slower- paced, friendly, and vastly more affordable Midwestern town of Prairie City, Lucinda zealously creates a series of televised reports for her New York audience about her newfound quality of life. But when Lucinda falls for eccentric local Mason Clay, her naïveté about the real world leads her down an unexpected path, where she encounters, among other things, a drafty old farmhouse filled with children, an ever-growing menagerie of farm animals, and the harshest winter the region has seen in twenty years. In other words, simplicity just isn’t as simple as it is cracked up to be, and "quality of life," Lucinda learns, is much more complicated than she ever imagined.

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Review:

Meghan Daum's first book, the essay collection My Misspent Youth, was written with effortless humor and excoriating insight. This was a writer who made fun of everything, most especially herself. Humor and self-knowledge infuse her debut novel, The Quality of Life Report. Fans of Daum's essays probably know that her unworkable, expensive New York lifestyle led her to move to the Midwest. Same goes for the fictional Lucinda Trout, a New York TV producer who, while on assignment, falls in love with the town of Prairie City. Daum, with typical acuity, is wise to her character's real motivations for moving to the country: she wants to be a better person, and believes the Midwest will do the trick: "This was, after all, serious country. The real heartland, the plains. It was Willa Cather-novel serious. It was Sissy Spacek-movie serious and documentary-film-about-poor-conditions-in-meat-packing-plants-serious." Lucinda soon discovers that she's not immune to the less-than-perfect aspects of Prairie City living, and acquires a boyfriend of questionable hygiene and judgement; a rambling, isolated farmhouse that looks like the set to a Sam Shepard movie but is impossible to heat; and a tanning-bed tan and a set of false nails that are the region's signature style. The plot of the novel unwinds rather messily, and Daum doesn't always seem in control of her material. But she never lets Lucinda off the hook, and that's the key to the book's success. Daum has given her heroine a voice that is prickly, a little ruthless, and lovably vulnerable all at once. We don't always respect Lucinda, but we're pretty sure we'd be friends with her. --Claire Dederer

From the Back Cover:

Acclaim for Meghan Daum's THE QUALITY OF LIFE REPORT...

"Meghan Daum has written a stunner of a book - outrageously perceptive, unexpectedly poignant, and most of all incalculably funny. I found myself chortling aloud in my bed as I read it, amazed at its take-no-prisoners attitude to all that passes for a hip inhabitation of the world. The Quality of Life Report is everything that touted novels by young urban women are supposed to be but generally are not: original, wise beyond its years, and absolutely true to itself. Daum's is a glistening talent, one that leaves most of her contemporaries - male and female - in the dust. What can I say? Here's a novel for the ages."
-Daphne Merkin

"As hilarious as this novel is, its core is hard-won wisdom. Writing that appears this effortless can only be accomplished by the rigor and magic of a truly gifted novelist."
-Melissa Bank, author of The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing

"With a keen eye and trenchant wit, Meghan Daum skewers the obsessive narcissism and sense of entitlement that passes for real values in our media-driven culture. Always funny, often painfully so, The Quality of Life Report is more than simply satirical. It is an intelligent and heartfelt tale of a young woman, making radical choices and waking up to her life."
-Ruth Ozeki, author of My Year of Meats and All Over Creation

"I cared deeply about Lucinda Trout, Meghan Daum's winning, hilarious, Chardonnay-seeking narrator. Lucinda and Ms. Daum herself share a flair for chic satire, plain truth, and, most impressively, a rare, wise forgiveness."
-David Schickler, author of Kissing in Manhattan

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