In A Mouth Like Yours, Daniel Duane creates a character study of a frustrated twenty-eight-year-old graduate student, Cassius Harper - or “Harper”, as he is known to most people. Harper is torn between two women – his current girlfriend, Shauna, and a new infatuation, Joanie, who confuses and frustrates him to no end. While his relationship with Shauna is somewhat transitory and almost non-existent, what happens between Joanie and Harper will recall to some readers of a number of Woody Allen films, very intense and frustrating.
Harper meets Joanie through mutual friends, Bernie and Eliza, and on their first “date”, Joanie makes Harper so uncomfortable that it is hard to believe she wants to see him again. Joanie makes Harper jump through hoops, and he falls for every one of her tricks. She makes him feel as if he can’t do anything right to please her. In fact, throughout the affair, Harper is trying so hard to impress and perform for Joanie that it becomes almost painful to read. Joanie becomes an obsession for Harper, an unhealthy preoccupation that nearly eats him alive.
Shauna, in the meantime, is still in the picture, and while she does let on that she thinks Harper is seeing someone else, she never acts jealous. She’s always the mature woman who is patient enough to wait for Harper to come back to her. But Joanie, who acts as immature and insane as they come, is Harper’s focus. It’s as if the more he displeases Joanie, the more he needs to make sure he can prove to her that he’s worthy of her.
Joanie is a self-centered drama queen who seems to have only one agenda: to be the center of attention. And while it becomes obvious after a while, Harper (and the reader) will not notice at first that Joanie is playing with him. Or is she? Harper can't figure out Joanie, and he isn't sure whether he loves her or hates her. Joanie comes across as insane at times, spoiled at others, but I have to say that by the end of the book, I hated her with a passion. Their affair starts in California, where the two meet, but takes them eventually to New York, where Joanie lives most of the year. The two settings are a good contrast between the two characters, representing how different the two are from each other, just as their hometowns are as different as the two lovers happen to be.
The book is short, less than 200 pages, but during the span of the book, the author describes in detail every thought that pops into Harper’s head as Harper goes out of his mind trying to figure out Joan and what she wants from him. Because of my frustration level with the two main characters, I am giving A Mouth Like Yours only three stars. The author does a good job with creating two somewhat unlikable characters, but it would have been nice if I could have felt something for either one of them.