I've taken to re-reading some of my books while on vacation. Some of them are actual books, written by authors that know how to string together a sentence and then move onto paragraphs and chapters, even. Others are strictly girl fluff. I'll admit it readily. I have ovaries and I'm not ashamed to read some claptrap for fun. Some people have ice cream and snickers as a guilty pleasure, I have junk novels. They're not of the supermarket variety, and every now and again a good author comes from some of these novels. But not many.
Case in point: The Devil Wears Prada. Dissecting it at first, it seems okay. Funny title, based on a real story and looks like pure unadulterated fluff. Great. Then, I start reading it. First read I went through was okay. I finished it very quickly and had a thought in the back of my head that end was a tad preachy, but I didn't think much of it. Second reading I was just using it as filler between books and barely paid attention. Third reading, the conclusion is absolute crap. The first chapter isn't even believable. And here's why.
I can only assume that this was not written for people in the actual work force. It must be for high school/college kids or people that aren't in their chosen field right out of school. At least, I sincerely hope so. How she gets the job is a tad out there. She shows up wearing horrid clothes (and I know for a fact, if it's a fashion magazine the interview would've ended with a brisk handshake. I don't care how tall and skinny you are.) Second of all, she doesn't know the person she's going to be assisting. Second strike, and obviously where reality and fiction start to separate. I can't tell you how many job interviews I went on, how sharp I looked and how much I knew about the company. Failing to do any of those things is just idiotic. Find a library and introduce yourself to google, fuckhead. C'mon. Everyone she interviews with gushes about how great the opportunity is and how well-respected this editor is, um, if they have to keep telling you, then they don't believe it themselves. Simple as that. Here's the other catch, after one year as assistant she can choose whatever she wants to do from there and this lady will make it happen. That's what we can too good to be true here in reality. It never takes one year to get where you want to go in the work world. Shortcuts like that are just hooks to get your ass in the door.
Okay, moving on. She gets the job and her boss is a nightmare. All of us how the power to quit, really. It may not be feasible, but it is there. There's also labor laws and various other safety catches out there in the real world. Yeah, I know. Job of a lifetime. Whatever. That's such bullshit. No job is worth your confidence and self-worth. Yes, again... I know it's fiction. But still. There are more magazines in the world than this girl is working at, honestly.
Either way, the story progresses and the job takes up the majority of her life. Her whiny crybaby boyfriend gets mad that she keeps falling asleep early when they go out and that she doesn't have enough time for him. Give the kid a hanky. Welcome to the real world. You don't always get what you want, and any boyfriend that keeps telling you to pick him over your job/career get a boot in the ass. Job/paycheck come first, boyfriends are icing on the cake. You don't need a boyfriend to eat, pay rent and bills. That's what your job is for. Okay, so whiny boyfriend leaves her because her work is interfering with their relationship. (Read as; needy bastard.) So now, her best friend has a drinking problem. Just like all new graduates. She's moved in with the girl and takes a while to notice that all the vodka in the house is gone and her friend brings home strange men a lot. This, boys and girls, is called being 21 in New York. It's not alcoholism... it just means your friend is a immature dumbass.
Here was the clincher for me. The girl in the story has to go to Paris for a fashion show with her boss. Whilst there, her best friend gets in a car wreck because she's drunk. Whiny crybaby ex-boyfriend tells her to come home and gets mad when she can't and tells her that he thought better of her. Yeah, because international flights out of Paris to NY are sooooo easy to come by. Especially when you're WORKING. Operative word here, working. As in, can't leave, this is still part of the paycheck. Yes, it's sad her friend is stupid and possibly seriously injured herself. But is that the girl's fault? Um, no. And Dr. Phil can't tell me otherwise, ya got it? So basically, this girl gets guilted into coming home. (It should be noted here that her parents knew, but didn't tell her right away or force her to come home BECAUSE SHE WAS WORKING.) And la-ti-da, her friend wakes up and makes a full recovery from being an idiot. Yay her. Maybe I'm a callous friend or just truly cold-hearted. If I'm working and I'm not on the same continent as the problem, wait till I get home! That thing with a paycheck, it kind of requires work in order to get it. And I like being able to pay bills and rent. And I dunno about you, but if my best friend/roommate is in a coma because of a drunk driving and I leave my job... doesn't that leave BOTH of us without a way to pay the rent?
Maybe this is all common sense to me, or maybe this is just supposed to be fun reading. But for me, fiction has to hold some element of truth for it to hold me and make me read. The adage is to write about what you know and you'll do fine. Chick lit or not, this girl didn't know squat and it shows.