TO DIE FOR by Joyce Maynard


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 Perky, aspiring newscaster Suzanne Maretto persuades her teenaged lover and his buddy to kill her straight-arrow husband; just deserts follow for all. Suzanne, who thinks that ``if people could just be on TV all the time, the whole human race would probably be a much better group of individuals,'' sets out to captivate the none-too-bright kids she's interviewing for a demo tape that'll get her out of her local (suburban Boston) station and onto the network fast track. There's Jimmy Emmet, who worships her as stupidly as does her hapless restaurant-family husband Larry; Russell Hines, who's just in it for the thousand dollars; and Lydia Mertz, who's so hopelessly smitten with Suzanne's big-sister glamour that she's willing to supply the gun. But the real culprits, as bestselling author/media-child Maynard (Baby Love, 1981; Domestic Affairs, 1987, etc.) keeps screaming in an amusingly flat series of self-revealing monologues, are Malibu Barbie, Victoria's Secret, Wheel of Fortune, abusive (or adoring) parents, and Donahue--all the accoutrements of cut-rate acculturation that give her characters such venal dreams and mindless determination. Maynard's ear for sincere garbage (``We're so connected, I can taste her Tic Tac,'' boasts Jimmy after Suzanne deflowers him) is as sharp as ever, but after 50 pages of such homogeneous stuff you'll start looking for the exit--unless, of course, your own taste for pulp romances of sex, power, and violence are just as depraved as the ones so lovingly excoriated here. What's most offensive here, as in Bret Easton Ellis's notorious American Psycho, is the raised-nostril pretense that this revolted attack on pop culture, already due for serialization in Penthouse, stands above it all. A more penetrating writer could have a field day analyzing recent popular fiction's disavowal of the tawdry culture that continues to grip it as tightly as Suzanne holds Jimmy.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-525-93396-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1991


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