as evidenced by my weekend of ovary smut, i have no problem with girlie trash. i find it nice, as a matter of fact - as long as it doesn't think it's something else. lauren weisberger's everyone worth knowing, for example, tries to pass itself off as a defense of the romance novel; no. jane austen stumped for the novel-novel (a "work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language") quite pleasantly in northanger abbey ; weisberger, on the other hand, sends her heroine to a weekly meeting of harlequin junkies who must be on to something good because, in all other respects, they're so damn hip. honey, no. we're also expected to believe in Big Romance because bette's final affair resembles one - but weisberger is too lazy to flesh out her analogies ("it was, i had to admit, a sex scene straight out of a harlequin"), and the 'real' courtship is too skimpy to serve her purpose. then there's the issue of satire, the reason i decided to read the thing in the first place; weisberger leads the reader to believe she's gonna nail the PR/events industry. there's no denying that she knows the scene; i met most of the types she describes, minus the coke binges and bungalow 8 fixations, in my year as a press-schmoozer. that said, bette never really realizes that publicists are Evil; she simply objects to real work, evil or otherwise. worst of all, the book just isn't funny. i hate you, lauren weisberger.

the encyclopedia of exes, on the other hand, is a pleasant surprise; i expected vapid short stories to match the gimmicky premise (26 male writers riff on breakups - alphabetically!) and got a reasonably tight anthology. lethem's "five" (originally "five fucks" in wall of the sky, wall of the eye) is a solid highbrow excuse for picking the book up in the first place, and panio "never heard of him" gianopoulos wins my heart with "murmur," a piece whose love affair ends with the narrator petting a cat that has a serious spinal injury. the bad news? we're reviewing everyone worth knowing, and the encyclopedia of exes got tossed and forgotten on the free table. the good news? i picked it up, so you can borrow it and get happy. i love you, injured cat.

No comments: