Fiction: April 2008 Archives

It girls in NYC

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By KRISTEN A. LEE

In her first novel, playwright and screenwriter Theresa Rebeck skewers paparazzi culture and our national obsession with the hookups and breakdowns of the young and the beautiful.

In Three Girls and Their Brother (Shaye Areheart Books, 337 pages, $23.95), three gorgeous redheads are thrown into the celebrity machine when a famous photographer takes their portrait for The New Yorker magazine. The media attention sparked by the photograph becomes a firestorm after a public run-in between rebellious, 14-year-old Amelia and a lecherous movie star.

Three Girls and Their Brother

Suddenly, the Heller sisters are New York City’s ‘‘It girls’’ of the moment, their every move stalked and scrutinized by legions of paparazzi and press.

Ambitious 18-year-old Daria and wild 17-year-old Polly welcome the attention, but Amelia wants to go back to the real world of high school. But she soon discovers that casting off her celebrity status won’t be as easy as it seems.

It doesn’t help that the girls’ mother, a former beauty queen, is willing to sacrifice her daughters to feed the demands of agents, publicists, stylists and reporters.

‘‘Honestly, it was like being in some crazy prison somewhere,’’ Amelia says after a nasty encounter with a manipulative agent. ‘‘Psycho prison for teenage models, that’s what it was like.’’

Waitress Waitress!

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Is it twice as nice when twins write a novel together? Here's a review of Turning Tables:

By MALCOLM RITTER

This novel will give you a new appreciation for what waiters and waitresses at fancy restaurants go through. And even if you don’t eat at fancy restaurants, you’ll be rewarded with a delightful story.

Turning Tables (Dial Press, 324 pages, $24) is written by identical twins Heather and Rose MacDowell, who drew on their own experience as waitresses at restaurants in New York City, Nantucket, Mass., and San Francisco. They’ve distilled those memories into the story of Erin Edwards, 28, who loses her corporate job in a downsizing.

Turning Tables

Desperate for cash, she takes a waitressing job at a chic Manhattan restaurant. Disasters ensue.

She has zero experience, and it shows in this high-pressure environment, ruled by her demanding and sharp sharp-tongued bosses. Early on, she’s flummoxed by the finer points of folding napkins at high speed, and sent sprawling in front of the temperamental head chef because her shoes weren’t designed for greasy spots.

Then there’s tackling the psychological challenge of reading and pleasing the high-roller clientele. ‘‘You have to be part of their fantasy,’’ her sympathetic mentor explains. ‘‘It’s all about controlling the guest’s experience, and that means adapting to every table. When I’m talking to guests, I’m not me any more. I’m ... whoever they want me to be.’’

Frankly, she’s told, none of her peers on the staff expected her to last more than a week. But she’s determined not to give in. She plunges on through traumas such as dealing with a shrieking child in the hushed dining room and waiting on a powerful restaurant critic. Throw in romances with a cook and a well-to-do customer — who furnishes a humiliating reminder of a waitresses’ social standing among his peers — and there’s more than enough to keep this story humming.

And it does. Surely there’s a movie in such a feel-good tale with outsized personalities, high-pressure action and an attractive young heroine. Until somebody makes it, the book will surely satisfy your appetite for a good tale.

AP


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This page is a archive of entries in the Fiction category from April 2008.

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