Monday, May 15, 2006

The Sporadic Gasbag Roundtable: City of Light

You can blame my mother for the delayed review. And I should mention... she would probably like this book. All I can say is I'm adopted.

This week's review is on the book City of Light by Lauren Belfer, and what a piece of crap it is. Seriously, it's really bad. I guess I should explain--and be forewarned, there will be spoilers--not that you wouldn't be able to figure that out all by yourself.

This book was a real hit in Buffalo (my home town), and like many things that happen in a city where not much happens, there was a lot of hype about it. How can I describe this mess? Well, the heroine of the book is a poor, but educated and lovely young woman (Louisa Barrett). The wealthy men who control the city (buffalo at the turn of the century really was something) took her under their wing. Tragically, they also decide Miss Barrett would be the perfect choice to be able to blackmail the womanizing president, Grover Cleveland. Miss Barrett is raped by Grover and finds herself knocked up. The wealthy founding fathers finance a trip abroad. Miss Barrett gives her daughter to a really good friend and becomes the child's godmother. The adoptive mother dies and the kid is devastated. Throw in a lot of stuff about Niagara Falls, electricity and historical information that with a better writer, could have been interesting. The adoptive father and Miss Barrett are thinking about getting married, but their romance is cut short by the kid drowning in the Niagara river.

I know what your thinking, "that doesn't seem that bad." Well Scoffers, I've pulled some direct quotes that, if I was sitting on the toilet when reading this stupid book, would have made me pee my pants.

All of Belfer's horrible writing will be in quotes and italicized for easy reading.

“Because I was a kind of ‘wise virgin’—an Athena, if you will—these men grated me my freedom and I granted them theirs.”
Ok, first I have to say, is Louisa Barrett--fictional character who Lauren Belfer--hack writer wants to be? Miss Barrett is so annoyingly perfect that... well, I can't really say, but she's too perfect. Seriously--a wise virgin? What is that? Athena? Fictional character, babe--and if she isn't--I'm probably going to experience a bit of trouble. They have the same initials!! I think I'm to write a novel about Melody Kinkaid, architect extraordinaire. Seriously, this broad thinks she's a stinking goddess. I'm a goddess too--the goddess of platonic love. But don't tell anyone, it's a secret.

“I never learned to flirt or simper. Perhaps the fact that I treated men as friends made in impossible for them to consider me as a wife.”
She never learned to flirt or simper. Nice attitude. Didn't you know that every woman in the world who is married knows how to flirt or simper (that's how they catch the menfolk).

“Of course with a child from the orphanage, secrecy would have been impossible. There would have been forms to fill out. Legalities. There would have been hushed rumors and endless speculation about the infant’s true parentage….Grace could be presented as Tom and Margaret’s true daughter.”
I admit, I included this quote because it reminded me of safe havens. And what is this piffle about presenting a child as a true daughter? That's bloody insulting!

“Was I certain, that the parents of this child were not Italian? Not Spanish, Greek, Russian—was I certain that the parents had no link (except one of philanthropy) to the immigrant communities of the city? Would this child grow to have Mediterranean-type skin? Did she have Jewish blood?
This is from the friend she's giving her baby to. WTF? If Barrett/Belfer is such a wise Athena, wouldn't she not want to give her child--the child "she bore to Grover Cleveland" to a racist?

“I cut a fine figure through society, I liked to think—tall and slender, blonde and bold.
Oops--here's where Barrett/Belfer separate. I'm compelled to comment on the heroine--who ever heard of a heroine being short and fat, swarthy and shy? There is a picture of Belfer on the jacket. She's attractive--in a dark, conservative (pearls!), slender aka I've-been-vomiting-five-times-a-day-for-the-last-15-years sort of way. She looks like she's wearing a whole lot of make up. But I bet she doesn't... simper.

“The men around me were smiling—with kindness. They weren’t smug, they weren’t complacent; they were my friends, my supporters. They’d always shown me sympathy. Anything I’d wanted, they’d given me. Ten years ago, I’d asked them for a sabbatical leave—to visit Europe, I told them—and they’d agreed without demur and given me a grant to cover expenses. When I returned, the position of headmistress awaited me. I was the orphaned, nearly penniless daughter of a college professor, but they accepted me as an equal among them….Each was a father to me.”
Yeah, and these are the guys who sent you to get raped by the pres so they could use his bastard spawn as a blackmail weapon. Sheesh, these guys are making my father look like a prince.

“He rubbed his private self against my leg.”
Ha! HA HA HA A HA HA!! His private self. Hah. That reminds me of another story... of a young man in my youth. It was weird.

“His promise of secrecy was all I could rely on to protect me.”
Of course he's not going to say anything! Duh!

I would totally recommend reading this book... for a laugh! I paid $0.37 for it, and I feel it was worth every penny.

Wise Athena, my ass.