Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Karen, Book Review, *Kerry Reichs, *The Best Day of Someone Else's Life

Let's get the obnoxious name-dropping out of the way straight off. I put The Best Day of Someone Else's Life on my list because I've met the author, Kerry Reichs, a couple of times at DC cocktail parties and I always end up picking her brain about publishing, income as a writer, and her mom's show. I felt obligated to at least read her book if I'm going to constantly talk to her about publishing, as I'm reasonably certain I'll run into her a few more times. It's the polite thing to do, you know? So I read it on the Dulles-LAX leg of my flight to Hawaii.

The premise of The Best Day of Someone Else's Life is that this girl called Vi goes to a whole bunch of weddings over the course of two years and it changes her perspective on marriage. Plot twists, growing up, realizing you were wrong about X,Y, Z, yadda yadda yadda. Only more interesting than that, but I hate summarizing books. Hate. Prefer ranting. Also, summarizing said book is problematic and that is my chief complaint.

It is not Kerry's fault. At least, that's what I'm telling myself. I'm making up a whole narrative in my head so that I can blame the publishers and agents and editors and not the writer. It involves query letters and agents/editors' failure to read closely because her mom is already famous and bad editing decisions because the book was really long, etc, etc.

When I read chick lit, I read it for shits and giggles, so I don't have to work or think at anything. It's formulaic and isn't really about the story. It's about the damned packaging. Maybe I'm wrong, but with War and Peace and Moby Dick on my list, I'm not about to put in the time reading a wide variety of chick lit to prove myself wrong when assuming that I am right makes me so much happier.

Here's what The Best Day of Someone Else's Life's packaging told me:

There would be x number of dresses, dress colors, weddings, embarrassing hook-ups, etc.

Here's what TBDOSEL showed me:

Maybe a quarter of that.

I was terribly annoyed. I was expecting a formulaic "ooo here's the first wedding . . . here's the second blue dress . . . here's hook-up number three . . . this is the thirteenth wedding, so it must be Vi's . . ." and I didn't get any of that. It was like watching a movie and getting up to pee for all the jokes that were in the trailer (which are always the only good jokes), so you leave the theater feeling, um. Empty. Like you didn't get what you paid for.

Lest you think it was a complete disappointment, let me assure you that TBDOSEL did make me ponder the nature of engagements, but I found the overall premise that weddings are overblown fantasies a little trite. I didn't find the narrator to be exceptional enough for me to cheer over her decision to non-conform. The narrator's chief quirks were in perverting movie titles and in ordering three different kinds of drinks at a time. They were quirks that a writer could show, but not quirks that helped me to invest in the narrator's internal rationalizations.

TBDOSEL did leave me with one gem of a question that will follow me through my dating life, I'm sure: Do you want to marry this guy, or do you just want to be picked? So, not a total bust, but definitely a lot of room for improvement, both on Kerry's end and on Avon's end.


Jen C said...

"Do you want to marry this guy, or do you just want to be picked? "

That's the question I am always thinking when I watch reality TV dating shows. Are they really interested in that person, or do they just get caught up in the competition and want to win? Hmmm...

brionywilliamson said...

"Do you want to marry this guy, or do you just want to be picked? "

That has made me think of a girl I know, whose sole purpose in life (it would appear) is to marry a CEO/investment banker type and sashay around the place with him on her arm so we can all bask in her reflected glory.

Which is funny, because I always thought that was a chick lit invention. Turns out it actually happens.

moonrat said...

oh briony honey. yeah, it does happen in real life.

check this out:


the thing is it doesn't really bother me because i seem to prefer impoverished artistic types. exclusively. (so an entirely different kind of pathology.)