It's not strange for me to pick up a book - buy it even - and find out it's crap. Some seem to start like crap but then get good - such as it was the case with Sunstorm by Asa Larsson, which ended up being one of my current favorites. However this book I'm currently reading is crap on crap and 215 pages into it (from a hideous grand total of 372) is a nightmare and a qualified atrocious tree murder. The book in question is "Chasing Harry Winston", by Lauren Weisberger, a writer who made a name for herself with the book "The Devil Wears Prada", which was later brought to the movies, under the same name. A movie, I must say, I absolutely love. My msitake was, perhaps not have read the book of Ms. Weisenberger - The Devil Wears Prada - before embarking on another of hers, particularly when the Internet - as I later found out - is plagued with negative criticism for her terrible writing style and the way the book is actually constructed. This is one of those few cases where the movie is better than the book.
Before even getting my hands on the book that served as base for this great movie, I latched onto this book, which portrays on it's cover a very iconic image: three diamond rings full of bling on the best Gangsta-Style (to my liking) and white fur Louboutin plumps. Looks, to my liking, like a hideous slice of the some small white dog (fur looks coarse) pimped up. Maybe that should have warned me.
The book is about three friends - Emmy, Leigh and Adriana - who are reaching 30, have slightly different lives but are good friends, in a too Sex and the City style. They love and resent each other constantly and are absolutely displeased with the turns their lives have taken - though Ms. Weisberger makes an exagerated effort to prove how wonderful and gradious their lives are - and so, they decide to turn their lives around on a one year bet. (Because that's what 30 year-old women do.) It's also somewhat odd how Ms. Weisberger insist on calling her characters "girls", when by their age, it should be more proper to call them "women". They do act like girls - all fluffy, manipulable, insecure, unable to get a grip on their lives, and drifting away in the shallow shades of existence - so maybe the word is well applied, but still, there's no clear indication that the book is about three dysfunctional women fucking it up every step of the way.
In this book you have an Emmy, who is the "Charlotte" of the book: longterm relationships only, few men in her life, and constantly dreaming about a romantic life with a husband who adores her and Children! Oh, she can't live without children. There's then Adriana, the Trust Fund girl, Portuguese who constantly dishes out Spanish words - which also exist in Portuguese, but never a 100% Portuguese word that doesn't exist like that in Spanish. She's the "Samantha", dishing out advise and tricks that truly makes you doubt of the wolesomeness of the men that might fall in the "trap". Finally there's Leight, the "Carrie/Miranda" of the book. Perfectionist, workaholic, with a perfect boyfriend/fiancé, perfect appartment, perfect job, but hates the woman upstairs because of the noise she makes, dislikes her boyfriend because he's perfect and sweet and feels bad about herself because she shouldn't be like that.
The whole plot is pretentious and doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Descriptions are about prices and brands and expensive features. Does it make a difference if the bag of the character is Fendi or Prada? Do we need to read the brands and the magazine-like description? Why do we need to know that a person is looking up from her Vogue, instead of simply saying "fashion magazine" or simply "magazine"? It is indeed troubling to read how what any sane woman would call "harrassment" is depicted as welcomed "compliments" and jealousy is something invited upon as a token of love and interest. The profuse brand describing to painful extents was ok in "American Psycho", where it represented how shallow and pretentious the protagonist was, but in here? In here it's the way the writer has found to make the readers believe that these women are "successful" by anybody else's standards.
Now, if you are an ignorant of the "rock world", you probably didn't know that Harry Winston is a famous jeweler and a company of jewelry. When it downs to you, you get that the book is about three women of 29 looking to secure an engagement ring before 30 (you know the stigma: if you are a woman, the ultimate purpose of your life is to get married and have kids, and the success of your life is measured in the wealth of your husband), and not any ring, but a big rock, because the bigger the rock the bigger your success. And you can pretend that the bigger the rock, the bigger the love (because a man who isn't so interested wouldn't sacrifice so much for you), but then again that implies also that poor men can't love you enough. Nothing to worry though, as the "girls" don't have to deal in the book with the Americans who lost their jobs and can't sleep at night because have a foreclosure pending on their homes.
They look for the proposal, they look to be validated from others, get the attention of others, so instead of saying: "Fuck this, this isn't making me happy. I'm leaving all this behind and going another direction before it's fucking late" they rather keep the scheme going on, pretending everything is awesome to then collapse like damsels in distress, regardless of all the damage they've done, to be saved, pitied - because that's such an amazing and validating feeling to convey from others - and washed clean and pure, to then be resettled in the old track.
Banks have collapsed, economies have cracked, poverty has been poking out it's head for over a decade now in the U.S., and yet books and movies and series keep pushing the life in the fab line, the excesive spending, the abject dependance on fashion, the American Psycho twisted and overly praised lifestyle as the only one that can make you happy, even if you are not.
10 pages into this crap and your brain is so numbed you would actually believe that yoga is a way to convey dark arts to summon Cthulhu. Why I keep reading it? It fucking pisses me off to have spent some $16 on it, so now I'm finishing it just to know how much shit $16 can buy.
Can't wait to be done with it and then either toss it to the trash can, leave it on a park for someone to do something with it, donate it to a library where people can read it without buying it and so saving others the $16, or try and get some of that back selling it to a used book shop.
PS: Yes, we defended our thesis and it went really well for us. ^_^ I'll be posting about that in the future.