Across the Page: New Releases

One of the more interesting parts of the book is how Harris manages to balance humor with darkness. The darkest thread, and perhaps the most significant in the narrator's life, is how she was abused by her grandfather when she was a young girl: "I will not let my fans know … that I feel this wound inside me that I can't seem to shake, as if something was torn out of me when I was too young to remember. And I won't connect this to my grandfather because this is something I will never think about."

The publication of this "little pink book," the narrator believes, will take away all of that pain. The book will be made into a film, which will come with its own set of complications. Steven Spielberg will option it, and she will have to deal with his assistant, Henry — or multiple assistants named Henry.

But best of all, the narrator will fall in love with a woman who will help take away the stress that's sure to come with the book's publication. The two will have a complicated history; the girl once wrote a bad review of the narrator's work when she was in college. Up until that point, the narrator referred to her as "evil review girl," but now the two will reunite under completely different circumstances.

The narrator will also try to make peace with her family — her brothers, who are dead; her mother, who did not protect her from her grandfather and now wants her to marry Brad Pitt — all because of this book. As she moves further into her fantasy, the writing becomes a sort of prayer for forgiveness, acceptance and healing.

Pink is an incredibly well-crafted, inventive novel about what it means to dream so big that the dream itself becomes reality.

Hack by Melissa Plaut (Villard)

Melissa Plaut is one of only 200 women — less than 1 percent — who are part of the nearly 40,000 cab drivers in New York City. "It's true," she writes in her engaging memoir, Hack, "I am sort of an anomaly."

When Plaut tells her parents about her new occupation, they understandably try to change her mind. But Plaut is tired of working for corporate America. She's watched with envy the success of her best friend, Allie — comic book author and writer for The L Word, Ariel Schrag and even though she still can't figure out her "thing," she is ready for an adventure.

And so on her 29th birthday, Plaut becomes a licensed New York City cab driver. Shortly afterward she begins working out of the Crosstown Cab Company in Brooklyn, where she meets a whole host of characters, from the dispatcher, Lenny, who is "rumored to be the real life prototype for the Louie De Palma character from the TV show Taxi," to Harvey, who dresses in women's clothing and later comes out as transgender.

Plaut learns some valuable lessons over the next two years. She is forced to confront her own prejudices ("Sure I wasn't perfect in terms of my prejudices — who is? — but I vowed not to act on them").

She figures out how to handle road rage, both her own and others. "If there was one thing I'd already learned in my short time as a cab driver," she writes while recounting a story about an enraged driver who tried to run her off the road, "it was DO NOT ENGAGE." The driver, who ended up being an undercover cop, eventually stopped long enough to call Plaut a "stupid f—ing bitch," among other niceties.

The story is one of many where Plaut is verbally assaulted and threatened. Cab drivers are like "second class citizens," she comes to see. "What struck me the most about this [realization] was that it was probably what most nonwhite, non-American-born people experienced on a daily basis, and for the first time in my life, I was experiencing just the very top of that iceberg."

The job has its benefits, too. Lesbians, apparently, are fascinated by her position as a hack. It offers her a certain mystique — "I basked in it," she writes, "savoring the limelight, and the girls kept buying me drinks."

Throughout the book, Plaut, who first wrote about her experience on the blog New York Hack, explores her indecision over what to do with her life. Though — or perhaps because — she does not reach any definite answers, her anxieties are universal and easy to connect with.

By the end, Plaut is able to take some time off when she receives money from a settlement. But she knows that whatever she decides to do, she'll always keep her hack license up to date. "I realized that if I stopped driving completely, I'd miss this crazy job a lot more than I'd ever anticipated."

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