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How Perfect Is That Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 10, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
In the latest from seasoned Texan social satirist Bird (The Flamenco Academy, etc.), Blythe Young's recent divorce from Trey Dix has left her outside the protective bubble of Austin's high society. As her catering business goes broke and the IRS starts to chase her down, Blythe seeks a haven at Seneca House, the housing co-op where she lived 10 years ago during college. There, she must face Millie Ott, one of many friends Blythe shucked off in a frenzy of social climbing. Once portly Millie is now slender and, as a perfect foil for Blythe, also saintly: she delivers aid to the homeless by way of a tandem recumbent bike (which Blythe names the dorkocycle). At Seneca House, Blythe tries to make amends with people she's stepped on, to avoid the IRS, and to kick both a lingering drug habit and an addiction to scamming people into helping her out. She slowly starts to wins over the affection of her housemates until one of her unthinking decisions brings potential ruin on the co-op's financial well-being. The result is a laugh-out-loud addition to Bird's long line of estrogen-fueled dramedies. (June)
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Unscrupulously self-aggrandizing, unconscionably self-centered, Blythe Young leaves a toxic wake of debts, doubts, and destruction wherever she goes. Once the trophy wife of the scion of one of Austin’s most socially prominent families, she survived a precipitous fall from grace and now struggles to maintain the kind of Chanel-suited, Cristal-swigging lifestyle to which she had become addictively accustomed. Determined to keep her Jimmy Choo–clad foot in their butler-attended doors, Blythe embarks on a career as a party planner for her erstwhile society pals; but when they discover she’s been palming off Piggly Wiggly liverwurst as Parisian pâté, Blythe quickly becomes persona non grata. When she’s forced to reconnect with her frumpy college roommate, Millie, in a desperate attempt to polish up her tarnished reputation, Blythe discovers that even the oldest friendships come with statutes of limitation. Although Blythe’s shamelessly egotistical behavior can be a bit over the top, Bird nevertheless infuses her riches-to-rags tale with enough smart, sardonic satire and irresistibly irreverent irony to uproariously outweigh any moral misgivings. --Carol Haggas
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Blythe is already out of control when we meet her, a lovably deranged desperada on a freefall into a humorously twisted circle of hell reserved for fallen social climbers. Her journey is fraught with unexpected plot reversals and colored with pithy social observations, keeping the reader laughing out loud as the long noose of karma tightens around Blythe's neck.
Although the book is set in Austin and must hold a special place in the hearts of Texans, the characters are all-American (and a few international) and their dilemmas and personalities can be appreciated by any reader who prefers to laugh at our societal foibles rather than cry about them.
Bird is a masterful writer who obviously puts in long hours perfecting every little scene and sewing up every loose thread of the story. She milks every quirky character (and there are plenty) and every situation for full entertainment value. Her prose is remarkably hip and intelligent; her use of the English language to tell a story is exemplary. Often throughout the read I'd find myself re-reading passages, wondering where she gets her inspiration.
With its three act structure, twists and turns, easily identifiable characters, and sweeping social satire, the book reads more than a bit like a movie. It would be fun to see Cameron Diaz or Texan Renee Zellweger tear up the screen as Blythe, but I can't think of a comedy director working today who I'd trust to capture the whole delightful ball of wax that this book is.
Read it and enjoy.