Monday, March 21, 2011

Breakfast at Stephanie's

Apparently, this week's theme is books with overly clever or punning titles.  Breakfast at Stephanie's, which I picked up and started to read about ten minutes after I finished the cleverly titled Admission, does not have any high-class hookers, middle-class gigolos/novelists, embarrassingly fake Japanese men, or even a jewelry store.  The cat has a name.  You get the picture, I'm sure.  Nonetheless, I have the unpleasantly nagging suspicion that Sue Margolis chose the heroine's name specifically so that she could make a punny titular allusion*.  To be fair, Stephanie does cook breakfast for her friends a couple of times - the title itself is sufficiently on-topic, if not all that descriptive - but there's just nothing there to link the book back to Breakfast at Tiffany's in any way, meaningful, thematic, or otherwise.

Aside from this immediate one-star deduction, the book quickly lost at least another star or two simply for not being very good.  None of the male-female interpersonal relationships are realistically drawn, not that this sets them drastically apart from the male-male and female-female interpersonal relationships.  The plot's not particularly interesting or fresh: single mother runs into former almost-flame, kid's father reenters the picture, friends have love problems, single mother has career aspirations that are unrealistic but turn out to be possible with a little self-esteem, whatever.

And then aside from these issues, there are the really puzzling bits.  A Southern producer, one of several poorly humanized secondary characters, has very few lines, and most of them are just like this: "Why, ah am as excited by the prospect as a possum up a gum stump," and "If you don't mind my saying, little lady, you are as perky as a ladybug's ears at planting time."  If Sue Margolis doesn't mind my saying, this character's just about as hi-larious as a hornet's nest shoved right up my nose at any time of the year.

The midget whom the heroine hires as her agent isn't precisely a barrel of laughs, either; he hits on her at just about every opportunity, waggling his eyebrows, ogling her cleavage, leering, and so on, and each time Margolis tells us that Stephanie didn't notice that the little fellow was attracted.  Each time, without fail.  After the first time, which is clumsily written to begin with, it just becomes strange.  Either Margolis has a bizarre chip on her shoulder about women who don't see midgets as valid potential sexual partners or she's just a poor writer.  I would also accept both.

I'm giving Breakfast at Stephanie's a low two stars, within its genre.

* Lest you think that this is an accidental aberration to which I'm overreacting, Margolis's other books include Neurotica (neurotic erotica, I presume?), Sisterica (sisters/hysteria, probably), and one I shudder as I type: Apocalipstick.  Breakfast at Stephanie's is at least a pun, rather than the kind of portmanteau word one would expect to find in a ticking briefcase.

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