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See Jane Run
on January 26, 2014
For those of you considering this "litfic" NY times bestseller, this sample of Darcie Chan's prose describes a dinner date between a widower-cop and a formerly fat schoolteacher:
She especially liked his hands. His palms and fingers were well-proportioned. They were neither too big nor too small, and he kept his nails neatly trimmed. The silver band of his wristwatch peeked out from under his left sleeve...
The waiter arrived to take their order, and Claudia hoped that the dim light would disguise her blushing.
Claudia discovered that the food wasn't just good -- it was unbelievable. Having decided to make an exception and eat as she pleased, she helped herself to the hot bread the waiter brought, smearing it with the heavenly shallot butter that accompanied it. She ordered salmon with sorrel sauce, rice pilaf, and baby peas. Kyle opted for a New York strip steak and baked potato, with a side of asparagus. The house specialty dessert was something called "pyramid cake," and they decided to split one after they had finished their main courses. The waitress brought them a dish to share, along with two forks. What was placed before them was something out of Claudia's wildest, most fattening cravings....
"I can't remember the last time I've eaten like that," Claudia said.
"Yeah," Kyle said, groaning. "I feel like I'm in a food coma."
"A what?" Claudia said, laughing, even though she'd heard him perfectly well. It was such a clever, funny expression.
Got that? The food was "unbelievable" and "heavenly." We don't know a word the two said during their all-important first date, but we do know that Kyle opted for a side of asparagus and that Claudia got sorrel sauce with her salmon. Maybe they'll actually say something about each other after the meal? No. "I'm in a food coma," says Kyle, which, Darcie Chan assures us, is a clever, funny expression.
The entire book is written in this flat, juvenile language that tots up meaningless details (oh, Kyle was wearing a thick, oatmeal-colored sweater with a crew neck) while revealing nothing of the psychology or drama of the story. I could swype to practically anywhere in my Kindle and find a passage as laughable as this -- in fact, I read some of these passages out loud to my sister while we were on a long drive to kill the time with some yuks.
There may be a fun plot under all this, but I was so annoyed by the cardboard characters and kiddie prose that I couldn't be bothered to try to appreciate it.