Tuesday, April 27, 2010

One Fifth Avenue

One Fifth Avenue, by Candace Bushnell, is a charmingly* self-reflexive** journey through a world of modern***, liberated**** socialites*****.

This book has thoroughly earned the two stars^ I now bestow upon it. Why only two, you may ask? A better question might be, Why not just one?

Well, let's begin at the beginning - a good place to start for many things, although with this particular piece of literature, I might as well have skipped to the end. None of the surprising stuff happened at the beginning, anyway.

Come to think of it, none of the surprising stuff happened in the middle or the end, either. In fact, the most remarkable aspect of One Fifth Avenue's plot is its utter lack of anything resembling a moment of suspense. Chekhov famously said, and I paraphrase, since checking Wikipedia is too much effort, that if a gun is on the mantelpiece in Act I, it had better damn well go off by Act III.

Candace Bushnell seems to have modified this axiom to fit her genre: if a slutty breast-implanted gold-digger is introduced in Act I, she will blow every male character for money at least once by Act III; if a woman's husband is unfulfilled by his writing, she will become fulfilled by her own writing; if a nouveau riche hedge-fund manager's wife occupies the apartment of a recently deceased social legend, she will become the new social legend.

NOTE TO CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS: symmetry is not everything. Karma's not quite that much of a bitch. And poetic justice loses its poetry when it's a given that every single character will have happen to them precisely what one expected to happen to them - because as it happens, it will be boring.

Unless Candace Bushnell assumes that her readers will only buy the book to read while taking long trips on the short bus, which I suppose is possible. Under those circumstances, I guess the plot could be a little surprising. For a minute.

This book isn't really worth this amount of time, so let's sum up: the characters are uniformly unappealing. Even the sappy, mommy-loving, teenage computer genius (who is also not a cliche, of course), who (I think?) is supposed to provide innocence and balance, is kind of a repulsive little criminal. Also, paging Dr. Freud.

The only character with any redeeming virtue at all is the middle-aged sort-of hero, who endeared himself to me by so realistically almost blowing (good pun, right?) his shot at true love in favor of sex with a Brazilian-waxed twenty-two year old with fake breasts. He ends up with his true love in the end. Honestly, I'm not ruining anything. It was either that or some kind of pathetic meta-nod to a movie he and his love met while filming, and having her die in a car accident. Which would only have surprised me a little bit.

*obnoxiously
**self-promoting
***shallow
****self-absorbed
*****gold-diggers

^Warning: all posts on books designated two stars or less will contain multiple spoilers. You have been warned.

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