by Lauren Graham
Life is often heavy. Literature is often heavy. Sometimes I just want a little light entertainment, and Lauren Graham’s debut novel, Someday, Someday Maybe sounded like just what the doctor ordered. Now there’s no reason to believe that a gifted comic actress would be a particularly gifted comic novelist. Actually, my expectations might lean slightly in the opposite direction. So let me be the first to proclaim what a fun, funny, clever, and refreshing debut this is. It was absolutely everything I wanted and more than I expected.
Someday, Someday Maybe is the story of aspiring actress Franny Banks. She’d given herself three years to make it in New York, and as the novel opens in 1995, her deadline is fast approaching. Currently, she’s waiting tables, not for Godot. The novel details Franny’s travails personally and professionally as her deadline looms. There’s no real need to describe the plot further.
It seems reasonable to assume that there’s at least a smidge of autobiography in the mix. It can’t be a coincidence that Lauren Graham’s first professional listings on IMDB showed up right around 1995. She’s writing about a time, a place, and a world that she knows. The details ring true. And she does an excellent job of articulating the work of an actor. It’s quite interesting being inside Franny’s head, hearing her thought process, as she taps into the emotions she needs to convey. It’s easy to empathize with the likeable Franny and to root for her to succeed.
One of the greatest pleasures of the novel is the humor. Both actors and the industry are satirized. Additionally, there is rich observational humor. In discussing a neighbor, Graham writes:
“We worry about Frank in the way New Yorkers worry about strangers whose apartments they can see into. Which is to say, we made up a name for him and have theories about his life, and we’d call 911 if we saw something frightening happen while spying on him, but if I ran into him on the subway, I’d look the other way.”Aside from her career, Franny is a twenty-something woman navigating the rocky shoals of romance. There’s a light chick-lit feel to the novel, and the romantic subplot was truly delightful. Graham has meta-fictional fun with romance tropes:
“I mean, the whole ‘love triangle’ THING bothers me. Who even thought of that? I’ve never been in a love triangle. Especially one where the girl is torn between the obviously right guy played by the more famous actor and the obviously hideously wrong guy played by the slightly less famous actor. And also, why does the heroine always have a sassy best friend? And why is she always a brunette?”This is not literary fiction. Graham is writing in the voice of her first-person narrator. Yes, there are a
Graham’s characters are appealing. You want these young people to find their happy ending—whatever that happens to be. The novel comes to a very satisfying conclusion, and I enjoyed my time in Franny’s company enough that I wouldn’t mind at all visiting with her in the future. Given her creator’s success, I’m going to gamble that things turn out alright for her. As for Lauren Graham, I can only hope those long hours on set translate to further forays into fiction. This was an auspicious and entertaining debut. I’m waiting for a sequel.