Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


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Sex and the City for the Chick-lit Crowd

Nancy Sundstrom - June 17th, 2004
Marian Keyes is a talented, intelligent, prolific Irish novelist who, nearly single-handedly, has put the “lit” into chick-lit. Keyes’ books are chatty, charming and cheeky, and fairly crackle with killer one-liners and insightful observations about women, careers and relationships. Throw credibility and heart into the mix, and you’ve got works that completely engage while they entertain.
Her latest, “The Other Side of the Story,” follows in the footsteps of other Keyes favorites, such as “Sushi for Beginners,” “Under the Duvet,” “Last Chance Saloon” and “Watermelon,” to name a few, yet stands apart from these works. This just may be Keyes’ best outing to date, as evidenced by the complexity of the characters and the rippingly good dialogue they exchange. Here, Keyes has crafted a work as energetic, ambitious and sexy as the three women in the publishing business that her tome focuses on.
Jojo Harvey is a high-powered literary agent blessed with Jessica Rabbit’s body and a steel-trap mind. Her relationship with her married boss is causing her plenty of complications, but no more than those contributed by her top two clients, both of whom used to be best friends.
One is the ethereally beautiful, bestselling author Lily Wright, who can’t seem to kick out her second novel, but needs to since she’s already spent the advance money on the dream house her boyfriend, Anton, has persuaded her to buy.

Anton is the former paramour of events organizer extraordinaire Gemma Hogan, who was Lily’s best friend until Gemma introduced the two and they fell instantly in love. Gemma has documented the woes of her life through a hilarious series of emails that have found their way into JoJo’s hands, convincing her that Gemma was destined to become her hot new property.
The following excerpt from the book’s opening provides an instant feel for the world of these three women, according to Keyes:

“2:35 P.M. Monday afternoon

Manoj stuck his head around the door. “Jojo, Keith Stein is here.”
“Who’s Keith Stein?”
“Photographer from Book News. To accompany the piece on you.”
“Oh, right. Two minutes,” Jojo said. She swung her feet off the desk and tossed aside the crossword that was making her crazy. From her hair she slid out the ballpoint that had been holding it in a makeshift updo. The auburn waves tumbled to her shoulders.
“Why, Miss Harvey, you’re beautiful,” Manoj said. “Except your mascara’s gone flaky.”
He passed her her handbag. “Put your best face forward.”
Jojo needed no encouragement. Everyone in publishing read the questionnaire in Book News; it was the first thing they went to.
She snapped open her compact and reapplied her trademark vamp-red lipstick. She wished it wasn’t her trademark; she’d love to wear pale pink lip gloss and great neutral taupes. But the one time she’d come to work in Crushed Sorbet, people looked at her oddly. Mark Avery told her she was looking “a little peaky” and Richie Gant had accused her of having a hangover.
Same with the hair; it just didn’t suit her any other way. Too long and she looked like an unkempt ceramicist, and too short, well… In her early twenties, shortly after she’d arrived in London, she’d got what she’d thought was a gamine crop and the next time she went into a pub, the barman looked at her suspiciously and demanded, “What age are you, sonny?”
That had been it for the short-hair experiment — and the fresh-faced look.
“More mascara,” Manoj suggested.
“You’re so gay,” Jojo said, indulgently.
“And you’re so politically incorrect. I mean it about the mascara. Two words: Richie Gant. Let’s sicken him.”
Jojo found she was applying her mascara with renewed vigor.
After a speedy color-by-numbers circuit through the rest of her face-blush, concealer, glow — Jojo pulled the brush through her hair a final time and was good to go.
“Very sexy, boss. Very noir.”
“Send him in.”
Laden with equipment, Keith came into the office, stopped, and laughed out loud. “You look like Jessica Rabbit!” he said in admiration. “Or that redhead from the fifties movies. What’s her name?” He stamped his foot a few times. “Katharine Hepburn? No.”
“Spencer Tracy?”
“Wasn’t he a bloke?”
Jojo gave in. “Rita Hayworth.”
“Yes! Anyone ever say that to you before?”
“No.” She smiled. “No one.” He was so bright-eyed it was hard to be mean.
Keith unloaded his camera equipment, surveyed the tiny book-lined room, considered Jojo, then looked around again. “Let’s do something a bit different,” he suggested. “Instead of the usual shot of the desk and you sitting behind it like Winston Churchill, let’s sex it up a bit.”
Jojo stared stonily at Manoj. “What have you been saying to him? For the last time, read my lips. I am not taking my top off.”
Keith lit up. “Would you be prepared to do that? It would be very discreet. Two carefully placed thumbs and — “
A look from Jojo silenced him abruptly, and when he spoke again, he was a little less buoyant. “This is a great desk you have here, Jojo. What about lying on it, on your side, giving a big wink?”
“I’m a literary agent. Have a little respect!” And she was too tall; she’d spill over the ends.”

Keyes has two major themes at work throughout her book. One is that what goes around comes around, and the other is that there are always two sides to every story (or three, as is the case here). For example, have you ever wondered what the other woman was thinking when she took your man from you? Or what your best friend really thinks of an indiscretion you’ve committed? Or whether you would change that indiscretion, if you could go back in time and do so? The author puts a universal face on individual dilemmas as she interlocks three plotlines, and the result is a book liberally doused with heart and hope, wisdom and wit.
Because the focus is on women and their issues in regards to life, love and work, there are obvious parallels to be drawn to its TV counterpart, “Sex and the City.” Those missing that program should turn to this new book, and everyone else can chalk this up as the first great beach read of 2004.

 
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