by Wendy Holden, contemporary (2002)
Headline, £5.99, ISBN 0-7472-6615-8
Wendy Holden must be in a really bad mood when she wrote Fame Fatale. The amount of malice she displays towards her characters in this book tops anything the worst Todd Solondz can throw my way, and she rips apart everything from love to her fellow colleagues to her editors and more. Needless to say, I've had a fabulous time, until Ms Holden goes completely whacked and tries to insult me by telling me that, well, stupid is good.
Well, in this case, a stupid Wendy Holden book is almost good - the author got that right at least.
It's good for the half of this book when the author is happily urinating acid over two of the most stupid women I've ever encountered even in chicklit novels (and that's a first). Grace is the editor/PR lady of a small publishing house catering to pretentious authors with no sales. She has a loser anti-corporate boyfriend who takes her for granted in a way that should be made illegal, but she stays with him because, I quote, his taking her for granted made her feel sexy. So she moans and whines that she's unhappy, but she feels sexy moaning and whining that way. That is what happens when you don't have vibrators in your house. Let me stuff a banana into that dumb wench's mouth.
She accidentally sleeps with an author working under her (heh) when she gets drunk. He's sensitive, good in bed, gentle, and kind. It takes her... oh, 503 pages to start to give this poor Henry a second look. I know, all the acid Ms Holden is peeing on Grace's head is taking its toll on what little of Grace's brain cells.
On the other end of the spectrum is the bitch, Belinda. As if her rudeness and callous making up of ludicrous stuff in her interviews aren't indication enough, Ms Holden has Belinda giving blow jobs to senile old rockers and masturbating - because, see, blow jobs and masturbation are deeds of evil skanks. Look at Grace and learn. (So, does that mean that trendy London girls don't do the blow job thing? No, don't answer, please.)
Belinda gets humiliated really badly at the end, but she gives a good fight going down. Oh, that glorious bitch! She has me rolling around the floor in stitches as she writes ridiculous stuff that actually outdoes the ridiculous antics of the celebrities she interviews. Belinda is Bette Midler and Cruela de Vil's evil spawn, and I heart that lady.
There is also some very amusing stuff here about the chicklit scene. Such as the two feuding chick-lit authors - it is so easy for me to put names to those authors when Ms Holden drops so many liberal and easy clues about the real life authors that inspire these feuding hens. The competition for a saturated market, the cattiness, the fake sincerity, everything is bared and ripped to shreds by Ms Holden's claws.
I have a really good time... until somehow, Grace suddenly hogs the story half way through the book. Reading about a brainsucked vacuum cleaner Zombie McBeal taking ages to decide the obvious is as fun as pushing arsenic-dipped toothpicks into my eyeballs. Worse, she starts whining about how bad it is that chick-lit authors are getting bad reps and how tabloids are misrepresenting famous celebrities - what the hay-ell? Is this the same book I'm reading, the one where nothing sacred about hoity-toity pretensions is spared?
A handsome actor wooes Grace. I don't know how that happened, but I guess there are men out there who are dying to get it on with mindless broom handles. In the meantime, the author pushes Belinda into the toilet bowl and happily invites every Tom, Dick, and Harry to take a dump.
By the last page, this book has undergone a complete transformation. A book that rips apart stupidity in turn has ended up glorifying stupidity and ripping apart the very things that make Fame Fatale a wonderful exercise in bitchdom. I guess Wendy Holden's conscience kicks in, or maybe her editor isn't amused at the way editors are portrayed in this book. Then again, making Grace the heroine isn't what I would call a positive spin on the image of editors everywhere either.
Whatever it is, Fame Fatale ends up becoming the very thing it satirizes so effectively. This is indeed a true tragedy of chick-it epic proportions.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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