Sunday, May 07, 2006

#37 - Everyone Worth Knowing

Okay, just one book ago, I called myself out for reading too much crap. But man, Plum Sykes was scraping the bottom of the barrel, and when I was at conference all week, which is essentially day after day of university lectures, Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger (she of the The Devil Wears Prada fame, soon to be even richer once the film comes out), was all my over-worked brain could handle.

And, just to let you know, I'm halfway through Howard's End, so there's no need to be embarrassed by the quality of my reading these days.

The book is not good. Although I'd venture to say it's not as bad as The Devil Wears Prada, but a lot of the same problems exist. The main character, Bette Robinson, quits her boring job at a banking firm, uses her family connections to score a kick-ass job with a fabulous PR firm in Manhattan and promptly ends up dating the hottest guy on the party circuit. Only wait, they're not really dating, because [and this is mildly spoilerish so don't read it if you care about the "plot" of this book] he's, wait for it, gay. The real love interest comes in the form of a bouncer (with a heart of gold and a bucketful of dreams) named Sammy.

But, of course, the rocky path to their romance is well fraught with obstacles, work obligations, the prying eyes of online gossip columnists, "class" distinctions between the PR people and those who toil on the velvet rope. But honestly, yawn.

The biggest problem is Weisberger's own voice getting tied up in her characters. More often then not I was wondering why she'd make a point of having her character not know about Birkin bags, to the extent that a new co-worker spends pages upon pages explaining their importance to her, only to have her extol the virtues of their social importance in a way that didn't feel natural to Bette four chapters later. BTW, the Birkin chapter is what Weisberger read at the IFOA when I saw her; it was cute then, but it's not enough cute to sustain an entire novel.

And I hate continuity problems. She has a dog she never walks. She goes away on vacation and doesn't tell us what she did with her pet; it was probably locked up in her tiny Manhattan apartment for the entire week. The character is supposedly Jewish, but that felt totally artificial when it came out, like the author was trying to paint the character by numbers in awkward places within the text. It's as if the author really and truly wants to create a "character" but can't get her own voice out of the way long enough for Bette to truly become what she should be.

See, there's a point to reading bad books: they're chalk full of things not to do.

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