Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Devil Wears Prada

The other book I got Saturday. It cost a bit more (fifty cents!), but it was worth it. And unlike The Skin I'm In, I'm keeping it.

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger is a great, funny book that did not disappoint me in any way.

I'd checked out The Nanny Diaries and Citizen Girl from the local library last fall, and I was so disappointed in them. They sucked. They were told in first person, present tense, something that I notice if I don't like the book I'm reading. (Basket Case by Carl Hiaasen and everything by Sophie Kinsella are examples of ones I do like that way, because of great characters and a good story.)

They were also incredibly pretentious, at least to me. Why? The employers in both books were not named, save for an 'X'. That annoyed the shit out of me. It's a fictional novel! FICTION! NOT REAL. No one gives a damn what their names are, you're not 'protecting' anybody! Make something up, dammit. I gave Nanny Diaries too many pages, and gave up on Citizen Girl much, much quicker when I discovered it was the same thing.

But I'm sure others like them - one's being made into a movie, someone must like it. Who knows? I may give them another try one day.

I was worried The Devil Wears Prada would be the same thing. If it was, it would go to the Crisis Center with The Skin I'm In, but for different reasons.

It wasn't. It was told in first person, but in the past tense. The main character was likable, and her boss had a name, as did the (fictional) magazine she worked for. Everyone had a name, except for her friend's many boyfriends, but they were not X's and for that, I am thankful. Johnny Depp made an appearance at a party! He didn't say anything to Andrea, the main character, but he was there. I doubt he'll be in the movie.

Andrea Sachs gets a job the November after graduating from Brown as Miranda Priestly's junior personal assistant. She's told that if she can make it a year, she can get almost any job in the publishing world she wants. (The New Yorker, in her case.)

It's incredibly funny and sad, but it's a great book.

Miranda does nothing for herself, and expects her assistants to practically read her mind 30 minutes before she asks them to something. Her favorite thing to do is to send them or some other peon on a wild goose chase getting everything just so, and then changing her mind. She also expects the impossible - that her assistant Emily can get her a private chartered flight at midnight on Saturday because the weather interfered with her original flight. She can't, of course, and the airline had already booked her with their first flight out the next morning. When Miranda discovered that she would not be flying until the morning, she was still pissed. Her flight was going to leave at 6:50, but another woman had a flight to New York leaving at 6:35, I think on a different airline!, but she had to get out first. She got it, of course, and the best part to the beleaguered assistant - it got in 8 minutes later than the original!

She also expected Andrea to be there at the time on the itinerary, not 30 minutes later because her flight was delayed and she had to go through customs. Reality matters not to her.

Two mind-reading tasks that were especially bitchy - find a dresser at an antique store in 'the '70s'. She didn't give a cross road or even tell Andrea what side of the park she meant. When Andy asked her, she told her she'd given her the address, she's so forgetful. The address was on 68th!

She also told her that she wanted reservations at an Asian fusion restaurant that had been reviewed in yesterday's paper. "That's all." Andrea called every single New York newspaper and none had done a review on an Asian restaurant that met Miranda's standards. When she asked for clarification (something you never do), she was told that she'd been told 6 times that it was the Post.

The New York Post had nothing. When she asked again, she was told that she'd been told a dozen times that it was the Washington Post, could she be any stupider?

I was surprised she lasted as long she did. They were never allowed to leave the office unattended in case she called or someone called and she was there and had to take the call.

There is something I worried about - that what Emily (the senior assistant) was saying was true, that you don't get to the top of the world by being nice. That is true, but Miranda was a lazy, lying bitch who abused everyone who did everything for her. She may have been a creative genius, but that didn't mean she should treat everyone like shit, though she could because she's Miranda fuckin' Priestly.

While she was in the office, everyone was expected to dress like a super model - down to uncomfortable shoes. But Andrea was expected to make many Starbucks or other errands on foot. She got chewed out for wearing comfortable shoes by her boss.

Luckily for her, there were clothes provided for free when they were 'out of season' (hadn't even hit the stores yet) along with foot-killing shoes and fashionable purses. When the movie came out, there was an article in the M section about the movie and how she was working at a fashion magazine, she should dress appropriately. Reading this and remembering that made me want to barf. The writer had based it solely on the movie, not the book.

Andrea only got the job in the first place because she'd just had a bout of dysentery and weighed 115 pounds on 5'10 frame. Along with her desire to work in journalism. And she was promised that a year in Runway hell was the same as 5 years as a peon at a less prestigious publication. So she wanted to learn the fashion ropes.

The stress of the job prevented her from eating most of the time, so she never regained her pre-illness weight. She was the only one 'brave' enough to eat the soup in the cafeteria. The soup chef refused to make any soup low fat, low carb, low anything. Loaded with calories, but the stress prevented her from becoming a 'cow'. Everyone else ate salads, if anything, and complained about their weight.

Miranda ate as well, and one lunch time pissed me off. Andy had to rush around to get her 'usual' food and took too long. (Since she was the junior assistant, she had to run errands. She used the errands as a chance to smoke, talk to her boyfriend, and give away Starbucks drinks on the building's dime. She could charge everything to them - even the two daily taxi rides. She was not a native New Yorker and had no idea where the building was at first and then she had to wear fancy clothes and killer heels, so it was better to ride in a cab. And it was expected by the company!)

So she rushed to get back, and place it just so on Miranda's desk. Miranda came back to the office and got incredibly pissy. Why? In the time between yelling at Andy and coming back to the office, she'd already eaten and Andrea should have known that, even though she didn't bother to tell her.

When her coworker got sick (mono - highly contagious), Miranda had to talk to the doctor before she'd believe it - and she insisted mono wasn't a 'real' disease.

The book is perfectly funny, and I wish it was longer.

I want to rent the movie next time we do that to see how it compares. For one thing - the casting is wrong, judging by the shot on the back of my copy. Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway have healthy bodies. I don't think Meryl's a size 0.

I'll see how it matches up and report back. Expect something long and bitchy if it doesn't, and something short and sweet if it does.

A side note - I have no idea what magazine the author is mocking, or who she's mocking. I know some of the designer's names, but that's about it.

I think my sister would like it, but she said, before I could finish the sentence - "Never gonna read it."

"I'm gonna make a book called Never Gonna Read It, dedicated to you and it'll be all about how to be a super-duper genius success."

"Never gonna read it."

She pisses me off sometimes - I know she's not a reader, but she does have two favorite series - Gossip Girl and the A List. She begged me to give the first GG a try, and I did. I hated it, but at least I tried.

She never bothers.

I'm currently rereading Alas, Babylon. I had to read it in 9th grade, and made my homebound teacher mad because after a slow, "I-hate-this-tripe" start, I raced through it. Whoops. I'm always doing that. That really sucked in 10th grade when we read 1984, because we read along with an audio CD that was so slow.

I'm awaiting a Devil Wears Prada-type book about MAD. Good Days and Mad by Dick DeBartolo isn't cutting it anymore. (As I don't have it.)

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