The titular The Girl Made of Cool — the book consists of Alan Fox' second novel and two stories — is a subtle, harsh, intelligent story of a love triangle between three friends.
A young man and woman arrive home from a night out together. Having only recently met, this was their first formal date. It was all going so well until the young man starts to tell the truth. Having well and truly scared her away, Ridley turns to his friend and housemate, Chet Clifford, for advice. Chet is successful, suave, and handsome. I hated him at once. His teaching Ridley how to make moves on a girl was cringe worthy, as it was not Ridley’s style at all. Chet also does something so jaw-droppingly bizarre when he is alone that I will not even attempt to begin to describe it.
Ridley Richardson is the anti-Chet: academic, geeky, and poetic. His Girl Made of Cool speeches are much more romantic than Chet’s crotch-to-crotch dancing. He is an intriguing person, full of wonder; and his creativity with words and imagery seem to go hand in hand with a logic that allows him to put together ideas like non-adjoining pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and still make them fit.
The object of Chet and Ridley’s affection, Jayne Holly Wyatt, initially seemed to me more frosty than cool. Other than her being pretty it was hard to pinpoint why the two men pursue her. Her manipulation of Chet, although thoroughly deserved in my opinion, still did not endear her to me. Evidently Ridley sees something hidden in her that is worth fighting for, that maybe he can bring to the surface; and it is because of this that I was cheering for Ridley to win her. Does he? Only one way to find out.
I was also fascinated to see how the relationships between the three central characters evolved over time, and it is this dynamic that keeps the reader involved. The roles of honesty switch as the characters mature and grow to know one another better.
My favourite of the two stories is “Hell Has Blue Skies”, an amusing and exacerbating account of a young graduate struggling to make an impression in an unusual and demanding line of business. Jack Flynn is initially keen to change the image of the business as one full of crazy people, but soon his only choice is whether to try and beat them, or simply join them.
“The Lovely Lady at the Love Museum” is a witty tale of a young man pulling a long con on a major real estate billionaire in New York City. Yet Reed Fleming is not a professional con-artist, rather he uses his knowledge gleaned from a degree in anthropology to help him achieve his aims.
Fox shows us exactly why he is regarded as an expert in the field of storytelling. The Girl Made of Cool is far from your average love story. Instead it highlights the two very different interpretations of love that Chet and Ridley embody, and through Ridley. gives it an almost ethereal atmosphere, and even shows where love belongs in our universe.