Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados
An intriguing look into the literary value of the unlikeable “party girl”
“I feel as though becoming a woman is like a long tradition of going through things and coming out strong, but I am tired and weary!”
Due to some extremely mixed reviews, I was a bit nervous when I first picked up Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados.
Some reviewers felt like they were watching a mid-season episode of Gossip Girl, while others consider it a glorious work of social criticism. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I related more to the latter.
Happy Hour is a diary-style contemporary fiction following two twenty-one-year-old girls as they navigate a summer in New York. Completely broke and wildly problematic, Isa and Gala are primarily concerned with pursuing pleasure in all of its forms.
During the day, Isa and Gala sell clothes at a market stall, barely making enough money to cover the rent for their shared bed in the city. They move through varying neighborhoods at night, bumping elbows with celebrities, artists, entrepreneurs, comedians, stuck-up intellectuals, and boorish grifters. The girls attempt to convert their social capital into real cash with jobs as nightclub hostesses, au pairs, paid audience members, and even a short attempt at foot modeling. But, as the summer continues and their money runs out, their friendship is tested.
Reading Happy Hour felt like reading a book all about being young and human, specifically the experience of coming of age during late capitalism.
Through Isa’s voice, Granados perfectly captures the thrill of grappling for a life of glamor and adventure with nothing but youth, natural charm, and a particular talent for skipping out on the bill.
The less alluring moments of Isa’s summer, such as some debilitating hangovers and far from romantic hook-ups, are brushed over in the narrative, making some readers feel that Granados has forced rose-tinted glasses over the experience. To me, it felt like the subtle mentions of these moments of struggle amplified the severity of Isa’s situation.
The narrative also tends to change focus quickly and without warning, causing Happy Hour to feel unhinged. Was this done intentionally to mirror the characters’ lives and emotions? Or was it an accident born from a lack of planning on the author’s end? Personally, I don’t care. I loved the unbalanced and slightly off-kilter vibes of this novel. If it was an accident, it was a happy one that heightened my enjoyment and understanding.
Happy Hour is an intriguing look into the literary value of the unlikeable “party girl.”
Yes, at times, it seems empty or surface level with obvious observations on the stereotypes that crowd New York. But I believe Happy Hour has used descriptions of cute outfits and newly dyed blonde hair to express some relatively radical politics.
But don’t just take my word for it; pick up a copy of your own and share your thoughts! I highly recommend it for fans of My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh or Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos.
Isa’s Breakfast Old Fashioned
The Bloody Mary and Mimosa might be the most popular “Sunday Scaries” cure, but that doesn’t make them the best. So next time you’re trying to recover from a late night out, or you’re just having some friends over on a Sunday morning, give this breakfast-style Old Fashioned a try!
- 2oz bourbon
- 1/2oz non-creamy coffee liqueur (Bittermens New Orleans is my favorite)
- 1/2oz coffee syrup (equal parts coffee and sugar warmed and stirred until fully dissolved)
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 2 dashes orange bitters
1) If you’re feeling fancy, garnish your old-fashioned by rolling half of the glass rim in maple syrup then dusting it with espresso powder. Set aside.
2) Combine bourbon, coffee liqueur, coffee syrup, maple syrup, and orange bitters in a mixing glass and fill with ice.
3) Stir until chilled and strain into your glass over one large cube of ice (or however many ice cubes you can find in your freezer).
4) Express an orange peel over the cocktail and let it bring you back to life!