Monday, October 24, 2005

Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger

I'd never seen anything like it. The I-love-Lauren web sites. The I-hate-Lauren web sites. Incredible. I don't recall a time when a writer has evoked such emotion in readers! Ms. Weisberger, (in)famously known for her debut book, The Devil Wears Prada, now has a new novel out about the glammed-out New York City life entitled, Everyone Worth Knowing. The press has been sometimes good, sometimes bad. But really I think any negative press is merely a halo effect of different people's attitudes toward women's fiction, including such genres as romance and chick lit. Some people just hate it when women do stuff well and get accolades for it.

So, why does this young, energetic, attractive writer evoke such emotion in readers (which is what you're supposed to do as a writer)? I believe it's because she taps into some deeply rooted personal issues and emotions that women contend with throughout their entire lives. Was Devil Wears Prada really about fashion? Was it really an inside look into magazines, editors, and the latest rising-star designers? Maybe on the surface. But if you take a manicured nail and scratch just a teeny bit below the surface (don't chip a nail, gals), you'll note themes that make us women squirm with discomfort.

Maybe Devil Wears Prada really tapped into the emotions women experience in a strained mother-daughter relationship. Hmm? Always trying to please. Always looking for acceptance, validation, and nodding approval by the the most important woman in our lives? Our moms? Yet, while we try to gain acceptance and approval ("Look, Mah! Over here! Watch me!"), we also want to break away and prove to ourselves we don't need their acceptance. We can be ourselves, on our own and we don't have to turn to our mothers for an A-okay. (We also hope we don't have to turn into our mothers at all!)

Okay, this isn't fair to admit, but my relationship with my own mommy dearest is pretty good. But to say that I didn't go through phases of seeking parental approval while fighting for freedom like anybody else would be a big, fat, hairy lie. I've seen women's lives destroyed over the cruelty of their mothers. That just ain't fair. So, I'll tell you what my mother told me while growing up...

"Of course, you can do that. You can do anything you want."

That was her standard answer. Okay, that may have been or not have been a truth in reality, but I still believe it today. (I think she still believes it too!) It never occurred to me to consider that I couldn't do something.

So, that's my take on Devil Wears Prada, it's just one big metaphor for the mother-daughter relationship, and that's why the book ruffles our feathers and keeps us up all night turning page after page. We want to find out if our heroine will be all right. Cuz if she turns out all right, then maybe we will too.

As for Everyone Worth Knowing, it's on my reading list (I gotta read Lipstick Jungle, too, you know), but I'm already looking forward to Ms. Weisberger's themes, (acceptance? belonging? self expression? fitting in?) as I am sure the story will end up being a roman a clef ... tapping into all of our deepest darkest secrets and issues.

Tah-tah fah now! Myki


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