Sunday, January 21, 2007

I Can't Believe I Read the Whole Thing

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI confess I'm a terrible literature snob. Normally I wouldn't touch a book with a skinny cartoon woman in high heels on the cover. Or a pink book, or a book with lots of brand names in it. But somehow I found myself caught up in The Devil Wears Prada this weekend. And for the first third, it was fun and energetic; its giddy bitchiness it reminded me a little of The Valley of the Dolls (which I love, though its charm largely defies explanation). But the middle third repeated the same scenes over and over ("Andrea! Where's my latte?" she screamed. "Right here, Miranda," I answered, tottering in on my Jimmy Choos.") The final third was tedious and exasperating, though thankfully easy to skim.

One of the great things about The Valley of the Dolls is the way all the characters end up dead, crazy, or addicted to drugs. If their shallowness and vanity bug you in the previous 400 pages, it's deeply satisfying to see them punished in the end. No such pleasure in The Devil Wears Prada, where everyone ends up happy and content.

It's not that I don't like happy endings; I just hate that they've become de rigeur, at least for books aimed at women. Could Jacqueline Susann have gotten away with her decidedly dark finish if she'd written the book in 2006 instead of 1966? I doubt it. And I doubt the 1966 audience would have much patience for the fairy-tale endings we seem obsessed with.

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