Thursday, September 15, 2011

COMMITTED by Elizabeth Gilbert, A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD by Jennifer Egan, THE CARRIE DIARES by Candace Bushnell and a few other summer reads

I read a few excellent/good books this summer. Below are a couple of them:

COMMITTED by Elizabeth Gilbert
I zipped through this book.

After her Brazilian-born Australian citizen boyfriend Felipe (they met toward the end of EAT, PRAY, LOVE) is arrested in the U.S. at the airport, they faced a tough choice. Either get married or Felipe would be barred from entering the U.S…. forever. Both Felipe and Elizabeth had gone through tough divorces. While they were committed to each other, they swore they would never marry again. The United States of America thought otherwise.

Elizabeth writes about marriage and the strain on their relationship as they live outside the U.S. waiting for Felipe’s paperwork. One little thing that jumped out at me was her comment that they were living off the fumes of her last book. While all this drama was going on, Felipe’s business was severely damaged. EAT, PRAY, LOVE had not been released yet. While Elizabeth was a respected writer (her book THE LAST AMERICAN MAN is excellent), her life completely changed after EPL became a phenomenon. As a broke writer her story gives me hope. You never know what the future holds.

The winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Price for Fiction. I get the hype. Egan wrote one of my favorite articles about the fashion industry, “Jamie Is A Girl” years ago, but this is the first novel of hers I’ve read. The book chronicles the lives of a group of friends as life takes them in unexpected directions. It jumps around in time, past, present and near future. Most of the characters are connected somehow with music, but it’s not about the music industry Some say AVFTGS more of a series of short stories and the narrative is confusing at times. The “power-point” chapter told from the POV of 12 year-old Alison Blake is brilliant.

The book has been optioned for a series by HBO. Egan said THE SOPRANOS was one of her inspirations. Can’t wait.

Yes, I read these YA books and loved them. I’m not into sparkly vampires, but books about nerdy/geeky girls trying to fit in… I’m there. These books are a wonderful palate cleanser for those who sat through SATC 2. The 17 year-old Carrie had more depth, and intelligence than the 45 year-old knucklehead caricatures in the movie.

TCD takes place during Carrie’s senior year in high school in a small town in Connecticut. Her mother has died. Her father is a good dad, but overwhelmed raising three girls alone.

SITC is set during the summer before her freshman year in college. Carrie is in NYC for a summer writing program. She meets Samantha (the older cousin of a high school classmate) and Miranda, a very opinionated young feminist. Both books have been optioned for a series on the CW. Writer Amy B. Harris is adapting. I would so watch that series.

ONE FIFTH AVENUE by Candace Bushnell
Ms. Bushnell is kicking butt this year. This book was just optioned for a series on ABC. Unlike SATC, Bushnell will be a producer on both projects. People assume she made a bunch of money on SATC. She did not. Once she sold the TV rights, she was not involved with the series.

OFA is about a very chic building in NYC and the lives of several women who live (or want to live) there. Good, soapy fun. I loved hating the humorless Mindy character. And Lola reminded me of many obsessed with becoming famous early-20 somethings I met in L.A.

FALLING MAN by Don DeLillo
This was tough read. It’s a fantastic novel about September 11th. Keith is a lawyer who escapes the rubble. He was recently separated from his wife. His young son is having major problems, post 9/11. Keith’s struggle to reclaim his life is haunting, but hopeful. Somewhat.

THE ART OF ACTING by Stella Adler
A good resource for actors and writers. The book is a little dated. However, there’s a reason Stella Adler is considered one of the most important teachers of acting in America.

DELUXE: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas

This is an excellent book on the $157-billion luxury industry, globalization, class and culture. I am very anti-fakes anyway, but reading about how some sweat shop factories break the legs of kids so they can’t leave made me sick. Thomas writes about how several luxury brands are not selling luxurious well-made items anymore, but just the brand. The portrayal of LVMH is scathing.

One luxury brand that walks the talk is Hermès. It’s not surprising it’s one of the few brands that is still family owned and operated. LVMH wants to buy them. I think that would dilute the brand and basically kill it. Why the heck would anyone pay serious money for a Birkin or a Kelly bag if they are no longer made by hand? In order to meet the profit margins demands of a big multi-national, Hermès would have to use cheaper labor/raw materials.

More books next week.


Elizabeth said...

I love hearing about what you're reading, Arlene, thanks for sharing.

nine said...

so happy and agree that you call satc2's carrie a caricature ! both movies are

Deborah said...

Thank you for the list of books. I do enjoy hearing other reader's thoughts on their recent reads.

It's funny, I read more in the winter than the summer. Oh well.....

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Elizabeth - awww thanks, Elizabeth.

nine - What was the deal with her and Big in Number 2? She kisses another man and he decides to give her a massive rock? I don't understand.

Deborah - I enjoy it too.

In the summer all of my friends leave town. Maybe that's why I have more time to read?

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Those Bushnell books look great; I haven't come across many people who liked "Committed"; my guess is that they were just expecting something else. I've only read an excerpt (I think in Vanity Fair?), and thought it looked interesting though...keep 'em coming!

WineGrrl said...

Ciao! Long time no read!

IMHO LMVH wants to acquire Hermes for the same reason Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal. They believe that they can buy respect and credibility.

We all know how that worked out (snark)!

Paola said...

Oh! An English book list.
I'm in.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Michelle - I wonder if they thought COMMITTED was going to a sequel to EPL.

winegrrrl - This battle is getting uglier everyday. LVMH has a LOT of money.

Paola - you're welcome!