Friday, October 10, 2008

Candace Bushnell's latest is only one-fifth the fun of earlier works

Don't do it. Don't spring the cash for the hardcover of Sex and the City creator Candace Bushnell's latest, One Fifth Avenue. Instead, eat an entire bag of Twizzler's, spend some money you don't have at a high end department store, look up on Facebook the shady college boyfriend that made you cry, research the current value of your home or 401K and then read all about how the big hedge fund managers are faring during the economic crisis. You'll feel about the same stomach pain if you waste your time reading this book.

It's supposed to be a feminine Tom Wolfe commentary or modern Edith Wharton-style farce, and the Lily Bart that works her way into ruin is the old New York of the Sex and the City glory days. But if I want the stuff of Wolfe or Wharton, um, I'll read the real deal. When the stress of air travel prompts me to pick up some chicky fiction, I'd really just like a good story. This doesn't have it. Unless you think NYC co-op building politics are titillating. But in this era of good people trying to make their mortgage payments, I personally can't get into it.

What is OK: The book does show how the fancy free fun of the former Sex and the City life can spin out of control into scaryville. Spending the rent money on Manolos a la Carrie Bradshaw is no longer fun but truly dangerous. Single women engaging in casual relations in the coat closet at Bowery (or now, B Bar) are no longer strong feminist renegades but vapid climbers using their Brazilian waxes and Blackberries as tools to ensnare rich and successful dudes. And those elusive rich dudes? Bumbling idiots, immasculine and mean as snakes.

The married women in the story are the worst. The young wife of a hedge fund manager is completely spineless, willing to give up career and original thought and be treated badly in exchange for jewelry she doesn't like. The biggest villain? The harpy wife and mom that is so pathetic she lives on a middle class income, miserably gnashing her teeth at not having millions in the bank or clothes with a comma in the price tag. This character reaches a pinnacle of lameness by starting a blog. Oh, the vitriol that Bushnell has for bloggers! Whether they're writing about gossip, motherhood, marriage or sex, in One Fifth bloggers reveal the decline of society and are obviously not real writers. Like Bushnell.

This is definitely not a fun homage to shopping and shtuping. It's more like a horror movie with bad editing. There are even typos printed [shudder.] Don't do it.

Cost: $25.95 of wasted precious cash at the Fox News airport store, $15.57 at Amazon

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