on August 4, 2006
there are so many mean, vicious reviewers out there in amazonia, that i can't help but write this less-than-5-star review with a sense of trepidation. at the same time, i imagine that's thier point-to attack everyone who doesn't think that stephanie klein is the next joan didion (or at least candice bushnell) and thus discourage them from posting a review. well, the crazy superfans don't frighten me!
the fact is, i enjoy SK's blog a lot. while she can come across as superficial, self-centered and materialistic, she also writes great posts about her freindships, family, relationships, love, new york, self, creativity, and, of course, food. and i almost always find her blog writing to be at least decent, usually good, and sometimes really excellent (and regardless of quality, always engaging)-which is more than one can say about most blogs.
one of the reviewers wrote that if you like her blog, you'll probibly like this book, but for me that did not hold true at all. the shocking amount of name dropping, the brutal transitions between writerly descriptive passages (a strength of the blog) and, sorry SK, really, really mediocre dialouge was, to me, much more jarrring than the poorly executed but conventional interlacing of post and pre divorce life.
another reviewer mentioned specifically that the book could have been better edited, and i totally agree. i found that the many passages i recognized from the blog were the best written and did the best job of telling her story, were literary in style and visually evocative, but ten those passages of "real" writing would be followed by wierd hyper-conversational, casual dialogue and asides to the reader. and the way swearing is used in the dialouge-i don't think i've ever seen it come across as more jarring. also, the occasional attempts at "urban" slang make SK come across as sheltered and extremely white, to the point where i find it difficult to relate to her. i'm not saying she's racist at all, because i don't think she is, but she comes across through her use of language as rich and naive. and if she is, she is, but it distracts me from other parts of the story and her charachter, and undermines the narrative as a while. i think it's part the editors job to assure that the narrator, SK, has a consistent and effective voice and relationship with the reader, but clearly the editor was out to lunch, or possible the hamps.
also, i agree with other reviewers-the abbreviations and made up slang are uniformly distressing. furkid. help me. and the constant use of italics with them are slightly insulting, and also distracting. he's a WASband, i get it, because he was your husband, but now you're divorced, so he WAS your husband. also, some thing i think the editor should have done something about.
once the story had progressed somewhat and we leave the hamptons section, which to be different than the millions of other chichi hamptons depticions in nyc chicklit, could have been about friendship, or the natural beauty in contrast to city life, or the fishbowl life style, whathave you, something about the author herself, but instead was just amore descriptions of rich people and rich places (although i did enjoy her digression into being the "least" pretty freind during a girls night out), but once we left that, my least favorite chapter, i found my criticisms waning and lost myself a bit in the story. SK does have something to say, and there are glimpses of it being properly siaid, but just glimpses.
overall the book was hampered by a strange tendency to tell and not show, strange considering the degree of description she can go into on her blog. we only get a minimum of reflection and emotional backstory about the people themselves, and way too much detail about her cute but not that special theories on dating. dan savage and dategirl do much better.
i would have liked to learn more about why she really loved her husband-you need to understand why she wanted a life with him so very much if you're to have any sympathy for her or understand why she stuck around. the mother in law didn't seem great, but she didn't seem like the monster we are told she is. i'm not denying that she was a horrible influence on her son and the marriage, where's the proof? but one example of rearranged furniture does not a story make. i would have liked to know more about her feelings trying to get pregnant during a less than ideal marriage, what she hoped the baby might do for her relationship, and more about her expereince terminating the pergnancy. one again, she told us about it, basically, in a few sentences, but she didn't show us with words. i can imagine that it was difficult, but it's SK's book-it's her job to not make me imagine it, but for her to show me, and in doing so create a reality that is more challenging, informative, and emotionally resonant that what ever fiction about her i may conjure up.
i guess i was hoping that this would be the kind of book that would make you feel connected to the author, relate her to yourself or those you know, and inspire one to maybe tell some stories of ones own, but instead it's one of those books that made me think "hell, i can do better than this".
i do think SK is a talented lady, and some parts of the book are engaging and amusing, just not as much as her blog. perhaps her next book will show her talent more fully.
on October 7, 2006
A friend who read the author's blog fanatically reccomended the book to me, so I picked it up a few days after it was released.
I am now seriously reconsidering my friendship with her.
What a pile of dung. I can deal with self-absorption. It's the pretentiousness that made the bile rise for me. The name dropping, label obsessing, the un-oaked chardonnay, gotta marry a Jewish doctor even though the signs were there that he was a tool....You can take the girl out of Long Island, but you can't take the Long Island out of the girl.
I don't begrudge anyone for getting a big fat book deal. Good for her. Now she has all the money she needs for the perfect house, chardonnay, maternity jeans, hair products, pastries, etc.
Save your money. Read the blog. Many of the passages in the book were cut and pasted from it. Just watch out for her Kujoesque fans (apparently she saved their lives, made them better people, got them in touch with their inner pain caused by adolescent bedwetting, etc.)
on August 3, 2006
Why are so many Stephanie Klein fans accusing negative reviews of being written by one person, and citing the fact they've written only one review as evidence, when in most or all cases that I read, each of those accusers had him/herself written only one review?
I didn't realize having written only one review disqualified one from having a valid opinion. Maybe some people wrote just one review, which is all nearly everyone reviewing here, fan or not, seems to have written, because it was one book that moved them to comment because they found it to be especially bad, or especially good. Big deal.
If that is the sort of thing someone who loves a book focuses on in a review of a book they love, it doesn't say too much for the merits of the book itself.
With the fans' vicous atacks on other reviewers, I get the feeling many of these fans have a personal agenda, or are the author's friends. Why else would someone who merely liked (or loved ) a book attack other people so consistenly and so vicously? Most adults realize that everyone is entitled to have (and share) their opinion and that it is perfectly normal--and acceptable--for people to have different opionions.
I've never seen another review section on Amazon that is filled with such nasty, hate-filled comments toward other people. And I don't think those types of comments reflect well on the book or those particular reviewers.
Now, at the risk of being attacked shortly for my opinion, I will go on to say that I found this book unenjoyable for the following reasons:
*I found the subject matter less than compelling. If I'm going to read the minutia of another's life, it better be a fascinating life or a fascinating telling of the life. This book was neither.
*I didn't enjoy the writing style in the book. I had occasionally enjoyed a few of the blog posts I read, especialy the ones with detailed descriptions of scrumptious food, but the writing style that might be appropriate when you are spending a few minutes reading a blog post doesn't work in this case for an an actual book, in my opinion.
*The obtrusive writing style gets tiresome early on and distracts the reader.
*It doesn't help that the book jumps back and forth in time continually, making it even less smooth of a read.
*Overall, I found this book had little of interest to say and that it did not say it very well; the writing was full of bad expressions and badly structured.
*I didn't find the parts that were clearly intended to be humurous or touching, funny or touching at all,just forced and contrived.
*The biggest problem to me, more than the writing style, is that I found that nothing in the author's experiences enlightening, interesting, relatable, or even insightful. I don't seem to share or really like her opinions, values, lifestyle, or tastes.
I'm about the same age as the author, yet much of what she writes about are issues my peers and I left behind in junior high, (if we had these issues at all) and haven't given a thought to since. These topics are boring for me as an adult, I probably would have found the book more interesting in my early teens.
*There is a lot more to life than this book seems to think. With so many books by and about strong woman (I mean people who overcome real problems, like poverty, illness, discrimination, abuse, etc. not a breakup and frizzy hair and bad bikini waxes) I prefer to skip this type of writing. I can still have my chick lit and beach reads, but I'll choose ones with characters I enjoy and find likable and admirable in some way.
Becoming self sufficient (as an adult) isnt some great success that deserves praise, it is simply what we all do and are expected to do as adults. Stephanie klein has written a whole book about the process most adults have completed years ago and took for granted as part of our maturity.
*There are many books that are fun AND good books at the same time. With such little time to read so many good books out there, I don't recommend this one.