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Dec. 15th, 2004

I just got sent a book with possibly the most obnoxious press release ever. The book is about a woman living with a "trendy" leftie writer who meets a charming toff, and the blurb blasphemously describes it as a "fantastically modern and sexy take on Brief Encounter". The back of the press release is a quiz which presumably female critics like me should take to see if we are "settling for the Next Best Thing." In an attempt to convey exactly how obnoxious and horrible this quiz is, I shall type it out in full here, because mere quotations would not accurately express the horror.


A. Hip long-haired travel writer
B. Reluctant banker

A. On a date, always splits the bill; firmly commited to women's rights
B. Picks up the tab

A. Farmer's markets
B. Prefers roast beef and sticky toffee pudding washed down by a bottle of claret

A. Literary parties at the Groucho
B. Favourite Thai take out on large scruffy leather sofa

A. Reads the Guardian, Independent, London Review of Books
B. Has stopped buying newspapers

A. Never afraid to cancel if something better turns up
B. Always honours prior engagements

A. Networks at memorial services
B. Only attends funerals of people he loves

A. Keeps a strict eye on the way you dress
B. Thinks you look best with nothing on

A. Believes marriage exploits men by offering women a meal ticket for life
B. Will cherish you for the rest of your days.

More As: Unlucky, you're so impressed with the style and liberal orthodoxy that you're likely to fall for the controlling charms of egomaniac Will

More Bs: Congratulations on your excellent taste. Kindness, unpretentiousness and decency are the new sex appeal. You can look forward to a life of happiness with Rupert.

So, let me get this right. It's better to go for a banker who doesn't read the papers, doesn't have any truck with fancy organic food and always assumes he's paying the bills than go for a liberal feminist type, because liberals are controlling and humourless and exploit people at funerals. And they will never "cherish [urgh, that word makes my bile rise] you for the rest of your days."

And yet here I am, shacked up with a long-haired leftie feminist who reads the Guardian AND the Independent and with whom I split the bill when we go out for dinner! Oh no! And yet strangely enough, he is also kind, unpretentious and decent, and if I were prone to hyperbole (and let's face it, I am) I could say that we enjoy "a life of happiness". Although perhaps if I went for a rich banker who paid for everything we wouldn't have any money worries.... hmmmm, where's that meal ticket?! I'm off to pick up a rich man who'll treat me right and keep me in sticky toffee pudding for the rest of my days!

I should add that this abomination of a press release also tells us that the book is perfect for fans of Wendy Holden. I might have known.


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 15th, 2004 03:13 am (UTC)
That's vile. And aren't "firmly committed to women's rights" and "thinks men are exploited by marriage" somewhat contradictory?

And I am so sick of books that say "she thought she was happy...but she wasn't! Silly girl." Why?
Dec. 15th, 2004 03:15 am (UTC)
And aren't "firmly committed to women's rights" and "thinks men are exploited by marriage" somewhat contradictory?

Exactly! Since when was that "liberal orthodoxy"? Uggggggggggh! I'm not reviewing this.
Dec. 15th, 2004 03:15 am (UTC)
Oh, good god.

Am I being paranoid and imagining things, or is there some weird sort of anti-liberal backlash going on?
Dec. 15th, 2004 03:23 am (UTC)
I really don't think you're being paranoid!
Dec. 15th, 2004 06:33 am (UTC)
Well, actually, my Mom claims that there's an anti-right backlash going on. She says she can barely even celebrate Christmas anymore without getting "in trouble" from people. ::cough::yeahright::cough

BUt that's neither here nor there. THat quiz is fucking ridiculous. Gah.
Dec. 15th, 2004 08:35 am (UTC)
I don't think you're being paranoid. I read an article the other day at the library that said the new Stich n' Bitch craze, and the more "feminine" fashions were a reflection of the fact that women were tired of trying to emmulate men, and wanted to be respected as women (and then the stupid woman threw what I suspect was her caveat, that they still wanted to be respected in the business world, but while being feminine). I'm surpised my head didn't explode on the spot.
Dec. 15th, 2004 03:15 am (UTC)
:makes stabby motions towards book review quiz and those kinds of books in general:

I. You what? :boggles:
Dec. 15th, 2004 03:21 am (UTC)
And remember, girls, you have to pick one or the other! You can't be single! You can't look for another guy! The entire world boils down to two men...who both fucking suck!

Dec. 15th, 2004 03:25 am (UTC)
Well if you hold out for Mr Perfect you're going to end up on the shelf. And everyone knows it's better to be in a relationship with someone that be single and over 35!!!!
Dec. 15th, 2004 03:27 am (UTC)
Ha! Very well said.
Dec. 15th, 2004 03:28 am (UTC)
That quiz actually makes me feel ill.

And "liberal orthodoxy"? The fuck?

Dec. 15th, 2004 03:38 am (UTC)
"Reluctant Banker"

I should put that on a t-shirt for my sister's husband. Except there's no such thing!

To be honest, they both sound like lying wankers who are just going out with the (doubtless slightly homely) heroine until something better comes along.

And the whole thing reminds me of a Jackie Fleming cartoon.

You know, I think you should have a book bonfire for new year. I've got some I'd put in the pile!
Dec. 15th, 2004 03:39 am (UTC)
I find it interesting nowadays that romance books frequently emphasise that the hero encourages the heroine to eat and that he likes flesh on his women. Ones from the 60s seemed to concentrate on the man admiring the woman's mind/work. Obviously our sites of anxiety are moving.
Dec. 15th, 2004 03:45 am (UTC)
Interesting! I'm sure there's a PhD thesis in that...
Dec. 15th, 2004 05:40 am (UTC)
But then I'd have to read them and think about them and inflict rants about them on my poor liberal, fluffy, splitting bills SO. And university makes me insane.

Still, permission to read all day everyday and for it to really be work sounds great.
Dec. 15th, 2004 06:35 am (UTC)
Ha haaaa icon!

Sorry, I know that isn't exactly an intelligent contribution to the debate.
Dec. 15th, 2004 04:27 am (UTC)
I went and looked at the Amazon review before I read your post, and I came back thinking you were just going to pan it for having such a shallow plot. Jesus, Catherine Cookson wrote deeper books than this. You know, you have all the rags-to-riches stuff but it all falls through when the toff turns out to be a bounder or dies in the war or whatever. Then you have to plod through 250 pages of scrubbing floors before she gets to open a dressmaking shop.

And then I see the back-of-book questionnaire and realise that not only is this book going to be *really boring* but that it's going to be some weird defense of right-wing rich people. Do they *need* any defending?
Dec. 15th, 2004 04:38 am (UTC)
Oh, please review it! Rip it to fucking shreds!
Dec. 15th, 2004 04:40 am (UTC)
But then I'll have to read the whole thing! I don't know if I'm prepared to suffer so much for my work....
Dec. 15th, 2004 05:18 am (UTC)
please! you owe it to us poor misguided single girls who haven't found their very own reluctant banker yet.
Go on do it!
Dec. 15th, 2004 10:20 am (UTC)
Oh, just review the quiz. Surely you can say that the promo stuff made you feel so sick you couldn't read the book?
Dec. 15th, 2004 05:32 am (UTC)
Ew! Ew, ew.
Dec. 15th, 2004 06:05 am (UTC)
yik. where are the books where a man has to choose between a networking leftie writer and a rich banker?
Dec. 15th, 2004 06:19 am (UTC)
Heh, exactly! I think we'll be waiting a long while for those ones...
Dec. 15th, 2004 06:25 am (UTC)
now i'm thinking about this theoretical book.

the guy has an affair with the banker, who is gorgeous; the leftie writer decides to get a makeover, be less "strident," and have our hero's children.

now i want to vomit.
Dec. 15th, 2004 08:33 am (UTC)
Sheesh. That quiz makes me want to go straight back to bed. Depressing. Just the phrase "fantastically modern and sexy take" is sick-making.

While I wouldn't wish such a pile of steaming poo on anyone, I'd love to read the scathing review you'd write. The most fun reviews to read are those that tear an awful book to pieces. I'm just sayin'.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )


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