Saturday, May 06, 2006

Wanker of the Day

Ana Marie Cox.

Her novel was truly awful, by the way. Really really bad. Truly horrible. Reading it I was reminded of her claws-extended green-eyed-monster Heatheresque review of Kristin Gore's book (which I didn't read but am now inspired to order).

According to an account in The New York Times, the film producer/force of nature Harvey Weinstein and Jonathan Burnham, the editor in chief of Miramax Books, decided to publish a chick-lit novel set in Washington. Three weeks later, they found their author: Kristin Gore, then 26, whose prior professional writing experience included stints at ''Saturday Night Live'' and the Fox animated show ''Futurama.'' At a reception for the nonprofit where Gore's sister works, the wealthy culture baron and the well-connected offspring of a political dynasty had a conversation that seems more the stuff of fiction than its source: ''What I really, really want to do is write a novel,'' said Ms. Gore. ''What a coincidence,'' replied Mr. Weinstein. What a country.

The book produced by ''this great serendipitous moment'' (as Gore described it) is a little better than its command-economy lineage might suggest, though such circumstances do set the bar awfully low. The basic story is reliably familiar: girl falls for Mr. Apparently Right, who turns out to be Mr. Completely Wrong; meanwhile, Mr. Apparently Annoying becomes Mr. Right All Along. The cast in this case is Washington-specific: the protagonist, Samantha (Sammy, natch) Joyce, is a senate staffer, Mr. Wrong is an up-and-coming speechwriter (Aaron Driver) and the Spencer Tracy role is filled by Charlie Lawton, a junior reporter at The Washington Post. This plot is chick lit's little black dress -- an empty form made appealing by how it's filled out.


The sloppy prose that pervades the book is an unfortunate reminder of its genesis. Its off-the-rack plot, running together B-grade chick-lit with campaign-trail policy talk, is the predictable outcome of a publishing focus group. It's not bad, it's just not any good. God knows, an astringent romantic satire is long overdue in a town where work is foreplay and the vibrating object in a couple's bed could easily be a two-way pager. ''Sammy's Hill,'' however, lacks buzz.

I never read Gore's book so I have no opinion, but when I read Cox's I was struck by how much it sounded like she was reviewing her own book.