Friday, July 21, 2006

Book review

I started the devil wears prada, by Lauren Weisberger, and while reading the first chapter I decided that the writing wasn't so great, but it did have potential to amuse me. Chapter two got on my nerves. The protagonist, whatshername--Andrea--is just your typical small town girl, you know, Ivy League education, post-college tour of Europe, mad dash to exotic Asian locations. Mmm-hmm. She wants to break into magazine publishing and says,

Although I knew it was highly unlikely I'd get hired at The New Yorker directly out of school, I was determined to be writing for them before my fifth reunion. It was all I'd ever wanted to do, the only place I'd ever really wanted to work. I'd picked up a copy for the first time after I'd heard my parents discussing an article they'd just read and my mom had said, "It was so well written--you just don't read things like that anymore," and my father had agreed, "No doubt, it's the only smart thing being written today." I'd loved it. Loved the snappy reviews and the witty cartoons and the feeling of being admitted to a special, members-only club for readers. I'd read every issue for the past seven years and knew every section, every editor, every writer by heart.

Oh, come on! I think Weisberger imagined an audience of mouth-breathing yokels. Not recommended, although I think I may watch the movie (once it comes out on DVD.)

Now reading The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I'm only on page 95, so perhaps it's unfair to warn people away. The writing is better than Weisberger's and I love the premise: a guy who spontaneously travels through time because he is "chrono-impaired." Too bad the only time traveling we get to see are his visits to his wife, as he travels into the past and waits for her to grow up and marry him. Oh, and he visits himself as a child. Maybe it will get more interesting, but I doubt it, and this book suffers from the same middle class pretensions as the devil wears prada. Clare, the "time traveler's wife" is an artist. Naturally. Because wildly romatic adventures happen only to artists and never to bus drivers or nurses. She tells us that her sculptures are "about birds and longing." Whatever. Henry, the time traveler, in the Art Institute of Chicago, looking for someone to pickpocket, says,

I'm looking for easy marks, and just ahead of me is a perfect illustartion of the pickpocket's dream. Short, portly, sunburnt, he looks as though he's made a wrong turn from Wrigley Field in his baseball cap and polyester trousers with light blue short-sleeved button-down shirt. He's lecturing his mousy girlfriend on Vincent van Gogh.
"So he cuts his ear off and gives it to his girl--hey, how'd you like that for a present, hugh? An ear! Huh. So the put him in the loony bin..."
I have no qualms about this one.


Aw. Leave the poor prole alone. Are we supposed to be impressed that he takes advanatage of people who are less well educated than he? And on Henry's fifth birthday, his parents take him to the Field museum of natural history. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but in the context of this book, it was like having another mother at the playground say, "Oh, you took your kids to the zoo? We took little Henry to the Field museum. Now he's classifying every animal he sees with its Latin name."

I'm still fresh from reading Paul Fussell's Class, and find these ridiculous pretensions irritating. I have a feeling I'm going to stop reading this book soon as well.

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