Due to the absence of Four-nication this week, I’ve found a way to quench your sexual reading needs and bring you a review of a book by a writer whose work I (obviously) hold in high regard.
Hampton’s Jitneys, posh night clubs, designer drugs, and sex are all prevalent in the sometimes intertwining lives of the light haired Manhattan natives who are the subject of Candace Bushnell’s second novel 4 Blondes. Her sharp wit and twisted yet appealing tales are a satisfying follow-up to Sex and the City and her television show of the same name, starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Four separate stories comprise the book, whose characters have similar absurd adventures and idiosyncrasies to Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte — the characters from her first book and television show.
The first of the vignettes, “Nice N’Easy,” centers around Janey Wilcox, an aging model who uses men in order to live in the multi-million dollar mansions they rent for summers in the Hamptons. No matter the man, Janey reaches for bigger and better. In reality, Janey has nothing — no man, no money, no career — but she is nevertheless living the high life. Yet, instead of coming across as overtly pathetic, Bushnell’s writing wins over the reader’s sympathy in Janey’s favor while allowing one to laugh at her shortcomings and insecurities. After ten years of dead-end summer love affairs with a series of defunct men, Janey tries to make it on her own as a screenplay writer. While she likes the sound of this profession, her attempts are in vain. Her entire escapade comes full circle when she is able to buy her own house in the Hamptons after landing a job as a “mature” Victoria’s Secret model.
The next story, “Highlights (for adults)” centers around Winnie Diekes and her husband James, the journalist-socialites who claim to hate basically everything and everyone. They, however, like most of Bushnell’s characters, have beliefs which are in direct conflict with the majority of their actions. The couple is so obsessed with their image that they wear a facade for each other and, even worse, for themselves.
Secretly, Winnie knows that she could raise their daughter and be the breadwinner without the help of James, and thinks that she would be better off without him. James is being driven over the edge by Winnie’s (usually successful) attempts to control him, and lusts after every woman that will give him some of the same respect and awe that Winnie did when they first met. During one crazy day, Winnie throws herself at James’ actor-best friend who she claims to hate, and James has an a ffair with a writer who works at Winnie’s magazine (but swears that he will never confess how dirty she is).
“Platinum,” the third story, is the one in which Bushnell’s great talent is evinced — her ability to get into the minds of her characters. She writes from the point of view of Cecelia, the celebrity who married a prince and is the subject of tabloid stalkers. This character is obviously crazy and the writing is a complete stream of consciousness. It continually goes off on tangents, is oftentimes nonsensical, and is always hilarious.
Finally, Bushnell tells the blatantly autobiographical story, “Single Process,” in which she goes to London on assignment to find out how British men and women differ from Americans. She has an affair with a typical Englishman — “a guy who had sex with his socks on, possessed a microscopic willy, and came in two minutes.” The ending, however, introduces a plot twist. The book’s conclusions suggests that Bushnell’s next piece of writing may not focus on a single overanalytical, status-imbibed blonde. It appears Bushnell may be giving up the single life of Cosmpolitans and Sunday morning coffee talks.
All of the stories are simultaneously satirical and realistic. All of the women would seem to have it all, yet they are all unhappy. While their misery is their own doing, it makes for great entertainment. Bushnell’s careful description of sexual tendencies is not only insightful but is what makes her writing edgy. Plus, for Sex and the City fans, this book will surely satiate your off-season, quick-witted sexual commentary-type needs.
Archived article by Sara Katz