Tuesday, July 30, 2002 posted by Jen at 7/30/2002 11:11:00 PM
Oy, Justin. What was that song? Where was the love? The humility was nice, but can't you be sexy and humble at the same time? Not only did you get your curls kicked by Tamyra, Kelly and even bleating Christina, I think even R.J. topped you tonight. Ouch!
Anyhow, I'm still voting for you, and I've got four words for next week -- actually three words and a letter with an apostrophe. Terence Trent D'Arby. You could tear up "Wishing Well" for 1980's week. Or "Sexual Healing," but that's probably too much to hope for.
Which fills me with mixed emotions -- as a writer, you want everyone in the world to go out and pay for a copy of your book, fall in love with every sentence, cherish it from cover to cover, recommend it to friends and colleagues, give it an honored place in the home and leave it to a worthy great-granddaughter in his or her will. But as an avid reader who's known the pain of having books piled knee-high on the floor because there's no more room on the bookshelf, it's hard not to support a program that's all about pleasant surprises and good karma. Plus, one of the nicest pieces of fan mail I got recently was from a (male!) high school student who found the book in the pouch in front of his airplane seat, read it, and loved it. (And I was delighted to read about the BookCrosser who was going to "release" her copy of GIB near the selection of Slim-Fast in her local supermarket!)
First off -- Sex and the City. If Richard's cheating on Samantha, I'm going to be brokenhearted. I want to believe in love, and I think it would be such delicious irony if, out of the four of them, Sam was the one who found it.
Also, what was Carrie wearing? That brown ruffled apron-y thing during the brunch that made her look like a waitress from the IHOP in hell? And what was that in her hair during the christening, a tribble? I know that part of the fun of the show is the fashion -- the kicky dresses, the to-die-for-shoes -- but Carrie's clothes have gone so far over the top that they're now out the other side. Also, the women I know -- including the ritzy New Yorkers -- just don't get that dressed up to hang out with each other. Hello, jeans and a tee shirt? Khakis and sneakers? Anyone?
Then there was Sunday's New York Times magazine's takedown of Dave Pelzer (A Child Called It, et al). I haven't read any of his books, and the story, as reported by the Times, sounds more than a little suspicious. If a kid's getting burned, stabbed, starved and tortured (while none of his four brothers are being touched), you'd think someone would notice, and remember, and be around to verify his claims.
But what was even more interesting than the story, even more than the behind-the-scenes machinations that seem to be keeping Pelzer's books on the best-seller list ("like squalling eaglets that refuse to leave the nest," the author notes), was the subtext -- the barely-veiled disdain the author directs toward Peltzer's readers.
Who shows up for a Pelzer performance?
"They are mostly women, mostly social workers, dressed in pants suits and long summer dresses.... ''You do such good work,'' he says, ''and you get no credit.'' An entire room of teased and bouffant hairdos nods in agreement."
And then, later, at a Barnes & Noble:
All 40 chairs are occupied. ''Dave's books empower my 13-year-olds because he survived, and they think they can, too,'' Carleen, a social worker, says. A lone man wearing thick-lensed glasses says, ''I found the abuse fascinating.'' Traci, a country-and-western-looking woman, is sitting in the last row, sobbing. ''Dave's an inspiration to me,'' she says. ''I'm in therapy for abuse. 'A Child Called ''It''' was the first book I read in a while.''
Okay, what is, exactly, a "country-and-western-looking woman?" And what's with the "teased and bouffant hairdos?" And is it just me, or when you read the phrase "a lone man wearing thick-lensed glasses," don't you pretty much expect the sentence to continue "was arrested for murdering and eating half a dozen runaways in his secret basement dungeon lair?"
The message seems to be that Peltzer's readers are low-class, badly-coiffed residents of unfashionable towns (Butte, North Platte, Daytona Beach) -- people for whom a book is an occasion for a highly personal emotional catharsis, the kind of thing that seems to make the Times go "ick."
Pelzer might be a huckster, a liar, a cheat who's taking advantage of the emotionally unstable, but Jordan could have made his point without the sideways slam at those who, if we are to believe him, have been taking in by a bad man, and whose only fault is not having advantage to big-city hair salons, boutiques, and laser eye surgery.