I used to see Myna Wallin at Scrabble tournaments in the Toronto area over ten years ago. Although she hasn’t played in a tournament in ten years I have followed her writing career and when I heard that she had a novel coming out, Confessions of a Reluctant Cougar, I persuaded my library to add it to its collection.
The novel tells the many stories in the dating life of Olivia, a cougar who is always hungry for young men. Olivia lives with her religious boyfriend William, and during the degeneration of their relationship she reminisces over the many younger men she has dated, almost married, slept with and had kinky sex with.
Myna dated Brian Cappelletto and I was not surprised at all to find a chapter in Confessions entitled “The Scrabble Guy”. In fact, I was expecting it. She refers to the Scrabble Guy by the name of Brian, and talks about his Nationals win in Chicago in 1998. Myna, or “Olivia”, travels with Brian to New York where he appears on “The Today Show”. After his appearance with Katie Couric:
“Brian put his fifteen minutes behind him much faster than most people. That was one of the things Olivia admired about him. He never got caught up in his minor celebrity no matter how many Scrabble players from around the world asked for his autograph.”
I feel like I am exposing intimate confidences between the two of them when I cite the next passage, where Olivia regrets her breakup with Brian:
“Olivia didn’t want to move to Chicago to live with him, and he didn’t want to move to Toronto. Olivia thinks to herself with some regret, I could have had dual citizenship; I could have spent my free time going to Scrabble tournaments the world over. Oh well, what kind of life would that have been for a Cougar anyway? Did Brian tell Katie Couric he was going to buy his girlfriend Olivia a gorgeous engagement ring? No. He did not. Seems they never get around to the ring–I’m just not a good closer, too easily distracted.”
Confessions of a Reluctant Cougar is a rapid read and a book I did not want to put down. Myna writes dialogue that is real and as such the pages could turn themselves. There were several laugh-out-loud moments, and ironically most of these came in the final chapter, entitled “Leonard Cohen, He’s My Man”, where Olivia falls for, but does not date, an older man, Mr. Cohen himself.
Myna meets Cohen at a party following the Genie Awards:
“At the after party, there was Leonard, sitting alone. I’ve never been afraid of famous people; in fact, I’m drawn to them. Plus, I was wearing an off-the-shoulder Lacroix pouf dress and jewels from my mother’s safety deposit box. That gives a girl confidence. Looking back on it, I realize I resembled one of those toilet paper holders that are all skirt, with the Barbie torso poking out of it.”
There are only two minor criticisms I have about Confessions–and I do mean minor. Katharine Hepburn’s first name is misspelled as “Katherine” (page 24) and the font that is used on the cover and spine for Myna Wallin’s name is hard to decipher. Confessions of a Reluctant Cougar was a delight to read and will be a pleasure to recommend; it’s a pity that Myna’s name couldn’t be more prominent in a legible typeface.
Twenty-one chapters tell of twenty-one men in the life of Olivia, a reluctant cougar. I am going to look forward to the next novel by Myna Wallin.