Jan 3, 2006

Doubly conventional with stock characters

Janet Maslin's appraisal of Dog Days, the novel by Ana Marie Cox, aka Wonkette.
"Dog Days" manages to be doubly conventional: it follows both an old-fashioned love-betrayal-redemption arc and the newer, bitchier nanny-Prada chick-lit motif. Melanie is a myopic and self-interested heroine by the standards of either genre. The reader will learn about Melanie's expensive shoes, Melanie's drinking, Melanie's buying of groceries at drugstores, Melanie's playing with sushi and Melanie's first shirt with French cuffs. Then there are Melanie's descriptions of cellphone noises, the Delta shuttle terminal and Washington's byzantine parking laws. Throughout all this, the "Berry" - a word used as both a noun and a verb - is never more than a pesty ping away.

Meet the stock characters: Julie, Melanie's even more cynical best friend and a Washington lobbyist; Rick, the married magazine and television pundit with whom Melanie is having an affair ("He was someone her Mom would recognize ... though maybe not right away"); Heather, the birdbrained but ambitious babe who is recruited by Julie and Melanie once they need a Capitolette stand-in. In keeping with the book's paint-by-numbers manner, Heather is a Washington hybrid of Jessica Rabbit and Jessica Simpson.

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