Wednesday, July 19, 2017

This Is What All The Fuss Was About????????????????????

                                                My recent post on the Literary Brat Pack, which has me searching for one I can be a part of, unless I am just one of my own, made me wonder about Jill Eisenstadt.  How did she become a part of this exalted group, as  I had never heard of her books, let alone read any of them?  So, I picked up what is considered her breakthrough work, "From Rockaway."  I found it readable, but when I was finished, what the hell was the point?

                                                 That this made some kind of a fuss astonished me.  Eisenstadt had the good fortune to be at Bennington College with that high profile combo of Bret Easton Ellis, and the still brilliant--the only one of this group, as far as I am concerned, who is--Donna Tartt.

                                                   This coincidental collusion is the sole basis, as I can see, for Eisenstadt's success.  Her entire novel reads like a collection of discarded material borrowed from Ellis.  And how does a Jewish girl write about a group of kids, who are basically Catholic?  One has an aunt, who is a nun, which accounts for some humor, and most have gone through parochial school out there!  And no mention of "The Song Of Bernadette?"  Come on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                     What she gives the reader are a collection of slackers doing what slackers do, only in Rockaway, Queens.  She gets the milieu of the place right; having lived in Queens, myself, for fifteen years, I grasped the misery of the place she conveyed, which is what she is best at.

                                                        But the kids she portrays could be any group of youngsters, at any point in time.  Who cares?  What the hell did editors go  crazy over about this readable, but otherwise mediocre work?   Jill, baby, get a new beat, because Queens is beat.  The Wicked Witch Of The West wouldn't even fly over it!

                                                       At least, I can say I have read Jill.  Tama Janowitz?  Not yet, but oh, God, when I do.................

                                                       And neither of these women can do a thing right, with their hair!!!!!!!!!!!  Haven't they learned, over time, that hair is key to literary success??????????

                                                        Just look at a picture of Lauren Weisberger, dears!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Videolaman said...

If you mention Tama Janowitz one more time this season, you're gonna summon her through your bathroom mirror like one of the unwise teens in "Candyman". Just pick up "Slaves Of New York" already, and get it over with. Its a very fast read, and you can probably find it at the Strand on the 99 cent rack.

Personally, I get a kick out of that book and read it every couple years when I feel nostalgic for the New York I came of age in. Love her or hate her, Janowitz captured that moment perfectly with equal parts empathy and contempt (which is how that era should be viewed: it was a gas if you were in the right place at the right time, but if you took yourself or the environs too seriously you were a fool and it would break you). I found my first partner in the East Village right at the tail end of that epoch, and we had a great five years together until gentrification (putrefaction?) wiped out everything that made it interesting in the first place. By 1993 it was all over, along with our relationship (which couldn't survive a rent-propelled transplant to- wait for it- Woodside, Queens). Today The E V is as dead, dull and moneyed as Park Slope, minus the trees.

The movie version of "Slaves" was one of the most anticipated adaptations ever, but was a fiasco from start to finish on a scale not seen since "Can't Stop The Music". First, those two tedious queens Merchant and Ivory got their enervating hands on it, and managed to drain every last drop of life and sass out of the premise. Then, they inexplicably cast Bernadette Peters in the lead role. Apparently she was the only actress around with exactly the right wacky hairstyle, but she was a good fifteen years too old for the part (and boy was it obvious on screen).

I love Bernadette, but her background as a scrappy native New Yorker imbued her performance as the clueless bridge-and-tunnel ditz with one false note after another. Merchant/Ivory tried to paper this over by directing her to act like an extra in "Night Of The Living Dead" but it just made things worse. She patterned herself on Elaine May in "A New Leaf" but without the humor (or a decent co-star to bounce off of).

The Raving Queen said...

The last time I was at the Strand, I looked
for any of Tama's books. Not one. Unless they
are buried some where that only the staff knows
about. I will try that, next time.

I never saw the movie of 'Slaves,' but even
at the time I thought Bernadette was miscast.
Too old, but definitely not a cutting edge
Downtown type. She was Broadway mainstream,
by way of Queens, just like Alice Playten.
As bad an idea as it would have been, even Cher
would have been better suited.