Imagine the contents of an Entertainment Channel hostess’s mind turned into print. Voilà this fiction debut!
In a bid for tabloid press attention and a chance at hooking a titled, moneyed bachelor, 29-year-old Cat McAllister throws her fourth annual 25th-birthday party—then manages to miss it. She wakes hungover the next morning to a call from Citibank: her accounts are “severely overdrawn.” Her trust fund has dried up, her globetrotting socialite mother is incommunicado, and her Art Deco penthouse triplex on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue is sacrificed to an old antagonist and current rival for tabloid press attention and titled, moneyed bachelors. Cat’s best friend, India Morgan Beresford-Givens, a transsexual fashionista, helps her land a job as a fashion columnist at a developing celebrity-gossip Web ’zine. (Are you burning your Blahniks yet?) In her quest for financial stability, Cat angles for invites to benefits, where she agonizes over seating arrangements while dropping every name in the Palm Pilot of interchangeable celebrity. The Estée Lauder sisters are mentioned several times, along with Town and Country luminaries. Cat shops frequently, almost always at Barney’s, which apparently is supposed to mean something. She is overcharged, overdressed, hungover, and underfed. Hip, cute, trendy acronyms and attitudes abound. When Chinese orphans appear “in,” Cat dispatches her Asian-Indian au pair to China to buy one, only to learn that Chinese adoption agencies don’t take Visa. The prose is flat, the dialogue dead, the subtext nonexistent. The irony is that there is no irony. Wow.
Fashion and celebrity are, of course, viable fictional topics—think Jennifer Egan or Jay McInerney—and there’s a place in the world for beach books. But could a book this light—with a plot so weak, and characters so caricature—hold down even the corner of a towel?