by Pamela Klaffke
I'm surprised I liked this as much as I did because I'm definitely not in the book's target audience. For one thing, I'm a guy. For another I don't know anything about fashion. I've never seen an episode of "Sex and the City" or "Ugly Betty" or "America's Next Top Model" or "Project Runway." I never watched "The Devil Wears Prada." I did read one "chick lit" book solely on a whim because it was super cheap and I was bored.
But I did really enjoy this book because it's so funny. The story centers around Sara B., a cofounder and photographer for "Snap" magazine. Sara's main contribution is to take pictures of people who are then labeled as "DOs" or "DON'Ts." She's been doing this for almost twenty years to the point that she's now 39 and most of her subjects are far younger than her.
Despite the success of the magazine, Sara feels generally unfulfilled. She's never married or had children like her friends or really even had a serious relationship. She drinks and smokes almost constantly, often to the point of excess. And when she takes the picture of a young woman with a parrot on her shoulder whom she calls "Parrot Girl" she realizes her passion for the job is waning. Not long after this, she meets a perky young woman named Eva, whom Sara makes her assistant and takes under her wing. Except of course Eva is a backstabbing phony out to usurp Sara's job--not that she really cares.
The story is narrated by Sara and full of hilarious asides and fantasies, many of which are darkly comic like a game show where only the fastest shoppers survive while those who use coupons and write checks are shot. A lot of her asides are also self-deprecating about her enlarging rear or sagging breasts or flabby stomach.
I think what I enjoyed the most is that while Sara goes through changes, she never really changes entirely. There's not that "A Christmas Carol" moment where she decides to change her ways and be "good" forever. Nor does she decide that to be happy she needs to settle down in the suburbs like her friends and have kids. In other words, she never sells out herself.
The story doesn't contain many surprises, but it's enjoyable guilty pleasure reading--even for dudes.
That is all.