General Fiction Reviews

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

Viking, May 1998.
Hardcover, 267 pages.
ISBN: 0670880728.
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Cover of Bridget Jones' Diary
Helen Fielding Thirty-something British publishing employee Bridget Jones has it all figured out. If she can just lose 1 ½ inches from her thighs, develop Inner Poise, learn to program her VCR and stop dating psychos, her life will be perfect. Boldly she makes her New Year's Resolutions, only to begin rationalizing them away on New Year's Day. As her life progresses over the year, we learn her daily alcohol consumption, cigarette consumption, and calorie consumption and other pertinent information to the modern Singletons (who are not to be confused with their antithesis: the Smug Marrieds). The diary follows Bridget's misadventures in love, work, dieting and friendship over the course of a year. Will she ever find love? Will she ever figure out why it takes her 3 hours to leave the flat before going to work in the morning?

British bestseller Bridget Jones's Diary is one of the funniest books to come along in ages. Originally penned by author Helen Fielding (who swears she's not really Bridget) for a weekly newspaper column, this is one diary you won't be able to put down. Luckily for readers there is a sequel in the works, so those who get addicted to a hilarious daily does of Bridget's daily ponderings won't suffer from withdrawal pangs for too long. Highly recommended.

--Claire E. White

Greetings from the Lincoln Bedroom by Arianna Huffington

Crown Books, April 1998.
Hardcover, 240 pages.
ISBN: 0609602276.
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Cover of Greetings from the Lincoln Bedroom  by
Arianna Huffington After making a token contribution to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in order to terminate endlessly persistent fundraising solicitations from DNC Chairman Don White, Arianna Huffington is rewarded with a weekend visit in the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House. Normally, such perks are reserved for contributors of $50,000 or more, Hollywood dignatories, and foreign businessmen/donors, but Mrs. Huffington is rewarded due to her insider status as a political commentator and former wife of Michael Huffington, a former Republican Congressman and failed Senatorial candidate. Mrs. Huffington takes the reader "through the looking-glass" to gain a privileged view of the Clinton White House in which money is paramount -- financial contributions will gain anyone, even convicted drug dealers, access to the Oval Office; where everything is for sale, from official policy to the bathrobes in the guest rooms; and where Al Gore can be found in the basement making continual fundraising calls (putting the tab on a DNC credit card, of course). President Clinton's cat, Socks, serves as a cynical tour guide, having been replaced as official pet by opinion-poll-crazed Clinton, who learned that a brown lab puppy would be more popular.

The Clinton White House is much like a fraternity house, with a gregarious President prowling the halls at all hours to befriend anyone who will provide gratuitous amounts of campaign cash, food, or sex, regardless of national origin, political persuasion, or age of consent. Staff members are nattering minions obsessed with the President's popularity, and those of the loyal opposition who seek to make deals with Clinton are callow and spineless, obsessed by the scorn in which the public beholds them. Hence, bipartisanship becomes a ferocious monster that consumes all who seek it.

Arianna Huffington's barbs are equally humorous and poisonous, replacing the once glib, now trite Art Buchwald as the wittiest political commentator. By far, this book is more funny that Rush Limaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot, and the best political satire since House of Cards and Thank You For Smoking. Robin Williams notwithstanding, this book proves that conservatives have a better sense of humor than liberals.

--Doug Jacobson

Misadventures in the (213) by Dennis Hensley

Weisbach Morrow, July 1998.
Hardcover, 294 pages.
ISBN: 068485029X.
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Cover of Misadventures in the (213) by
Dennis Hensley Craig Clybourn is an aspiring screenwriter who has moved to Tinseltown hoping to sell his screenplay, Deck Games. While making the rounds, he is comforted by his best friend from college, Dandy Rio, who now is starring in her own sitcom, That's Just Dandy, and is known for her media-grabbing hijinks, her childlike charm and her somewhat murky moral values. And, of course, there is the former Oscar winning landlady, the neurotic publicist Miles and Craig's 32 year old neighbor, Claudia, whose goal is to launch a one-woman show before she hits 40. As Craig and Dandy maneuver through the Hollywood maze, they learn about life, friendship and themselves.

Dennis Hensley, who is known for his "Misadventures in the (213)" column for Detour magazine under his pseudonym Craig Clayborne, has penned a hysterically funny novel which follows the trials and tribulations of Craig and his friends through the sometimes surreal world of Hollywood and its environs. Craig himself is a lovable soul who remains loyal to his friends, even while providing a hilarious running commentary on their failings and foibles. Although he occasionally lapses into Eyore-like depressions (which are usually too funny for words), like the proverbial rubber ball, he always bounces back to participate in one of Dandy's Lucy and Ethel type schemes -- which might involve anything from finding the men of their dreams to stealing the koi fish from Tina Louise's backyard -- which almost always backfire. With a rapier wit, a flair for pizazz and the ability to create complex, neurotic and yet totally endearing characters, Hensley is an author to watch. Highly recommended.

--Claire E. White

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