Wednesday, October 21, 2009

when I was in college getting my minor in creative writing—yes, i fancied myself as a writer—i began to write this murder mystery set in denver, more specifically in the area of cherry creek. i plugged in all kinds of things i loved about the area and tried to give it a feeling of the times with clothes and music and pop-culture references… and then this girl, (yes, petty me remembers her name—jenny ashby) critiqued my progress with, “no one cares about what brand name of clothes the characters are wearing, or what restaurants they went to. using these references will date your book.”

date my book? did she think i was writing silas marner? um… have i read silas marner? i was doing what the professor asked us to do: write about what you know. i know about girls, purses, shoes, music and local denver restaurants. but i was easily detoured, and kinda let that fiction writer in me die… except when every now and then, when i read a book full of pop-culture, and that snarky little writer in me comes hissing back to life to mutter not-so-nice things about miss ashby’s comments—which is probably why i can remember her name—on a story that i started to write in 1993!

so that leads me to robert rave’s book SPIN, which i just read… and lauren weisberger’s everyone worth knowing (EWK) that i read about 3 years ago. the two books are about the “beautiful” life of being seen, about two fairly nice people who fall into the world of PR firms and get caught up in the glamour, the parties, the celebs, the gossip and the complete loss of morals to get ahead of the rest of the pack… and these books are chock full of references to current celebrities, haute-est fashion, cutting edge music and pop-culture.

SPIN is told from a man’s point of view, and is more about taylor regaining the balance of power with a “nasty” boss… when she {pretty much} neuters him. EWK is told from with a feminine protagonist. bette’s story is softer in they way that she just wants her life (and privacy) back after the tables are turned. EWK is not too far from the devil wears prada nor chasing harry winston--look! the references are right there in the title. weisenberger gives us a taste of the life that looks so much better on the surface, and then a smack of reality to put all of the bling back into proportion…

and to my fellow-student’s credit, my college efforts may not have been anywhere good enough to carry a string of pop-culture references, so i don't fault her for those comments. and these other books probably aren’t high literature now and probably never will be. but then again, look at the valley of the dolls or sidney sheldon’s novels—pure pleasure reading and saturated in references from the time they were written, but does that make them any less fun to read? no, and SPIN and EWK were just that—fun reads. i was sucked in and enjoyed being there.

by the way, both books mentioned bungalow 8. i thought it was part of weisberger’s creative license for her book, but it appears it’s to be a real nyc place, a real place to be seen. and it seems it’s as hot of a spot in 2009 as it was in 2006—maybe some cultural references are a good thing… although, i don’t think i could still get in!

happy reading!

ps: jenny ashby, a very sincere thank you for giving me something to write about!

1 comment:

Spin said...

Love your take on all of the novels mentioned above--especially one in particular--it rhymes with "Fin."

I loved that you referenced "Valley of the Dolls" in your post. Not only does that novel use pop cultural references, but shows there's a dark side to the fun & glamour. I wanted to show that in SPIN while still making the novel a fun read.

Great blog--both in content and visuals. I'm a new fan!

-Robert Rave