I have no idea what draws me to keep reading about what happens at prep schools, unless it's my deep-seated working-class longing to press my grubby f...moreI have no idea what draws me to keep reading about what happens at prep schools, unless it's my deep-seated working-class longing to press my grubby face against the window and peer in at these golden gods and goddesses, who truly do run the world. Whatever.
It's partially an account of the "Milton Scandal", which I'd never heard of--back in 2005, five hockey players were expelled from Milton Academy in Massachusetts for receiving oral sex in the locker room [en masse:] from a 15 year-old female student--and partly a 'slice of life' study about some of the overachieving, highly-privileged students who were there at the time; the pressures and insecurities and longing for love (and the casual sex they get instead).
It's written by two former Milton students, both of whom (naturally) went on to Ivy League schools (one to U Penn and one to Dartmouth) and both have written for the Atlantic Magazine. (And both are eerily identical, according to the book jacket photo--their same-length hair is even parted in the same place.) With such exalted pedigrees I expected great things in the writing department...boy was I surprised. The book is entirely a collection of short, choppy sentences, like dried peas plinking into a cup:
"Junior year Brady's girlfriend claimed she hated his friends and dumped him. He understood why. He was a true guys' guy and couldn't dream up a better night than one with Church, Quinn and the rest of the crew. The guys shared similar characteristics: They were attractive, athletic and preppy."
I began to play 'spot the semicolon' by page 14. The authors even manage to make the numerous graphic descriptions of 'hook ups' seem dull, and that takes a degree of skill. One thing is certain, though, things have really changed since I was in high school, and no amount of money (or promises of Harvard) could make me go through it again the way it is now.
I couldn't help but compare this to "The Overachievers" by Alexandra Robbins, which I read last year. It covers much of the same ground, but is far and away a more enjoyable read if you're interested in this topic. (less)
A quick, furtive read, and a dull one too in places. Lots of skimming going on. Junor mostly revisits well-trodden ground (especially for people who h...moreA quick, furtive read, and a dull one too in places. Lots of skimming going on. Junor mostly revisits well-trodden ground (especially for people who have read everything in the world about these people already), with nothing too scandalous or revealing. The Queen is lovely, although her face looks glum in repose, which lots of people misinterpret. Prince Philip and Princess Anne are abrupt and rude to well, everyone. (But both are hard-working and intelligent.) Prince Charles writes everything in longhand, with his fountain pen. He has never used a computer. His father, on the other hand, had one of the first laptops in Britain and has used email since it existed. Prince Andrew should have been allowed to marry Koo Stark. Prince Edward is the most regal of the group, but has mellowed since marrying Sophie, who is a great favorite with palace staff because she's warm and friendly. (See, opposites do attract.)
Junor's insider notation of what some of the Honour's List abbreviations stand for gave me the giggles: CMG (Call Me God), KCMG (Kindly Call Me God), GCMG (God Calls Me God), and so on. Maggie Smith got rattled and forgot which way to leave the stage when accepting her Damehood. Totally understandable.(less)
Glamorous Disasters is sort of an erudite of “The Nanny Diaries” with a male protagonist; it’s about a Princeton grad from a humble background who mak...moreGlamorous Disasters is sort of an erudite of “The Nanny Diaries” with a male protagonist; it’s about a Princeton grad from a humble background who makes his way in Manhattan tutoring the scions of the elite to ensure they pass their SATs with high enough scores to secure their Ivy League birthrights. It’s a quick, charmingly voyeuristic read set in a world I’ll never see. After reading about it, I’m kind of glad of that. ;)
Once upon a time this was my favorite book--I can't tell you how many times I re-read it, and I cribbed a bunch of my best lines from it. (How embarra...moreOnce upon a time this was my favorite book--I can't tell you how many times I re-read it, and I cribbed a bunch of my best lines from it. (How embarrassing.) 'Tis the story of Alison and her coke-fueled, Chanel-wearing, trust-fund baby friends in New York City, and as far as guilty pleasures go, this is a gooooood one. Sometimes I get nostalgic for the 80's--it was so, well, innocent compared to where we are now. Some favorite lines:
"It's been so long since I've been laid two inches would feel big to me. Four inches would feel like a baseball bat."
"I think she looks at a guy and goes, oh wow! my mom would really be horrified by this stud."(less)
This one was a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the author, Michael Fazio, has a fascinating job and a fascinating history (he was a Hollywood age...moreThis one was a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the author, Michael Fazio, has a fascinating job and a fascinating history (he was a Hollywood agent and a concierge at New York’s Intercontinental Hotel before opening his own concierge business), and he’s one of those people you’d love to listen to tell war stories over a few drinks. The book is a lot like that—incredibly juicy in places and he names names (at least he names celebrities—Salma Hayek and Rosie Perez don’t come off very well at all), and the stories of entitled and sometimes downright evil behavior can be jaw-dropping. (What he describes happened in the hotel on 9/11 managed to shock un-shockable me.) And since I come from a service background, I enjoyed the nuts and bolts descriptions as well, especially how he got his business off the ground after leaving the Intercontinental.
On the other hand…well, Mr. Fazio isn’t a professional writer, he’s a concierge, so he hired the interestingly-named Michael Malice to help out with the writing. Let’s just say it didn’t leave me with a burning desire to read Mr. Malice’s “Made in America: The Most Dominant Champion in UFC History” anytime soon.
It’s also the first book in my recent memory that would make a decent drinking game: just take a drink every time the author uses the word “fancy.” You’ll be on the floor by page 62.
The verdict: fascinating, fun, just a little bit trashy, and well worth reading if the topic (or the strange ways of the rich and famous) interests you. Just don’t bring your red pencil. (less)
This was a riot, and came to me at just the right time--I've been reading some 'emotionally heavy weather' books lately, and was in need of a break. I...moreThis was a riot, and came to me at just the right time--I've been reading some 'emotionally heavy weather' books lately, and was in need of a break. It's a bit like "Gossip Girl" crossed with "The Prince and Me" and those Korean teen soaps my friend Amy has me hooked on (although the characters are much older), and made me all nostalgic for the Judith Krantz (hello "Mistral's Daughter"!) and Rona Jaffe books I devoured as a teen.
The cultural differences keep it more fascinating than simply fluffy, and you can learn quite a bit if you look just beneath the glossy surface. I went scurrying to Google numerous times to get a visual of the things he was describing (Singapore Airlines first class suites! Singapore's Black and White architectural style! VBH 'Dreamcatcher' earrings! The elusive shahtoosh!) and recipes for the lovingly-described food, all of which I'm dying to try. I really hope Mr. Kwan is brewing a sequel--I'd definitely read it. (less)