Blog Archives

Book Review: Love Rehab by Jo Piazza

Love Rehab: A Novel in Twelve StepsLove Rehab: A Novel in Twelve Steps by Jo Piazza
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Since ChickLit, there’s been a host of books in a new genre I’m going to call ‘This is not ChickLit’. Love Rehab is one of this type. It is about relationships and there is romance, female bonding, drinking and bad decisions along with an ‘alls well that ends well’. But it tries instead to be a non-formulaic, intelligent work by camouflaging itself as a self-help book instead. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The fluffy warmth of ChickLit with the entertainment value that earlier formulas wore out comes through in a book like this.

Sophie is newly-single (fresh dumpee) and prone to all the cringeworthy symptoms of a break-up. She illustrates well why women fear breaking up so much by her textbook crazy behaviour. All goes badly until a friend in the throes of another kind of personal crisis takes her into a rehab meeting. This gives them both the idea to set up a Love Addicts Anonymous group along the lines of AA and NA. As the novel progresses, the group finds each other, its leader discovers the lessons as she teaches them, some find true love, some find closure and everyone sleeps happy.

Jo Piazza’s writing is fast paced which keeps you from noticing the self-conscious ‘intelligent humour’ and ‘with-it lingo’. There’s a heavy emphasis on social media channels which is probably to underline how contemporary this is but the book risks being dated because of it. I mean Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest are an integral part of the lives of how many people who like to read relationship books?

Still, I liked it. I might even read it again some time later. But I probably won’t want to read many more of the same kind.

View all my reviews

XXFactored! Dec2010 – Social Networking, Relationship Dilemmas, Fashion Follies & A Masulinist Edge

December has been full of drama and dazzle as always…a wonderful way to finish the year! I’ve been running ragged between parties, lunches, brunches, dinners, meeting out-of-town friends and family and celebrations. But I have managed to keep up with what’s hot and happening on the internet as well. And here’s what I was warming my fingertips with this month on XX Factor:

  • Financial independence, earning capacity…What’s sex got to do with it? (via Yahoo! Real Beauty)
  • Does this mean I can claim my romcom DVDs under ‘Education Expenses’? Lessons from 90s romcoms (via YourTango)
  • Grrrlllll power! Or maybe men are just easier to pick up than women! (via RhealityRings)
  • We’ve seen ChickLit and then DickLit (or LadLit). Now here’s to GadLit (which is my truncation of Gay Lad Lit)! Tell what is thunk? (via Gaysi Family)
  • Other people’s mistakes almost always provide a laugh…especially when they’re bigtime celebrity types. So here’s appealing to the inner cat in all of us. Miaow to that! (via Yahoo!)
  • Maybe a lack of flexibility is the cause for most of our problems. That, and the fact that we expect people to love in exactly the same way we do. (via Twitter)
  • My post on Yahoo! Real Beauty and a version of it that appeared earlier right here on XX Factor. I’m still asking for your thoughts.
  • Five secret tests guys use to evaluate you while on a date (via Glamour).
  • You can outsource anything in today’s day and age!! (via idump4U)
  • Of course, this has a misogynistic air about it but it is funny. How to spot (and save your wallet from) a golddigger. (via The Bachelor Guy)
  • Earlier posted on The XX Factor and now also on Yahoo! Real Beauty – the world’s most popular social network adds another layer of complexity to the already-intricate labyrinth of relationships.
  • If our relationships are a reflection of the games we’re used to playing, maybe the people we date, are images of our favorite toys. Who then are we, by the toys we play with? (via Yahoo! Real Beauty).
  • I can’t vouch for the people but the idea sounds interesting. For all you single bibliophiles out there! Alikewise is a dating website that matches you with people of similar book tastes.
  • Really interesting how many of the roles depicted on this list tackled gender stereotypes. Ten ladies who’ve cross-dressed for roles. (via TheFrisky)
  • Revolutionary or ridiculous? You tell me. I’m going with funny. “French Women Who Like To Swim Topless Protest By Asking Men To Wear Bikini Tops” (via TheFrisky).
  • I tend to avoid risque on The XX Factor but this one was too good to pass up! TheFrisky‘s Sexy Rating Chart!
  • Eh heh heh. This site makes fun of the Forever 21 brand. But this post likened superheroes to hookers. Funny, that resemblance never occurred to me. (via WTForever21)
  • Earlier on The XX Factor and now on Yahoo! Real Beauty: Why do we trade in the attention of a hundred men for the indifference of one?
  • A rather looooong article but it brings up some salient points. Gender equality isn’t quite as simple as it sounds, is it?”A modest proposal for male reproductive rights” (via MensNewsDaily).

If you found yourself featured here, if you’d like to be or even if you just enjoyed anything on this list (or…umm, didn’t), hop over to the XX Factor Facebook Page and talk to me about it! A very happy new year, everyone! XX Factor will see you on the other side of 2011.

Guilt-Reading

I’ve just finished reading my first novel of the genre called DickLit (as opposed to ChickLit).

The book by Mark Mason is called ‘What Men Think About Sex. My initial reaction, one chapter down was,

Whaaaaat? It’s fiction?

and immediately felt cheated.

Despite its seemingly nonfiction (meandering into ‘self-help’ territory?*cringe cringe*) title, it is an out-and-out fiction story set in the form of diary excerpts of the protagonist.

The story itself is quite readable and Mark Mason even manages to pull off making The Clare Jordan Five and Three-Quarter Feet Handicap Stakes sound believable. The above is a contest between two men to seduce women whose names or seduction locations start with the letters C, L, A, R and E. All because the common object of their affections bears the now-offending name of Clare Jordan. Don’t ask. It sounds bizarre but in a funny way, he manages to make it work.

On the other hand, I hate it when writers pull stunts like that, making a book sound like something else in its title. I only bought it because the blurb described it as the male ‘Sex And The City‘ which at least half of you know (assuming an equal gender-ratio split in the readership of this blog) was originally a newspaper column.

I was mildly surprised at how like ChickLit it was. I even flipped over the cover to check that I hadn’t misread what may have been a ‘Marcy’ or ‘Margaret’ Mason. No such thing….an ordinary, if not pleasant-faced man stared back at me from the book’s inner flap. The format is even like Bridget Jones’ Diary!

Okay, enough about what I don’t like about the book…but when did I say I didn’t like it? Such homogeneity with the female standpoint is reassuring.

Except, what is it with men and guilt? A particularly intriguing excerpt from the book goes on about the Guilt/Temptation trade-off. It says that men can and do feel guilt about succumbing to temptation. Exactly why they do succumb then and what’s worse, doggedly chase after such temptation-laden situations is not answered.

“Because he does. Sorry I can’t be more cogent than that, but I’m concentrating on Bloke Feelings at the moment, not Bloke logic. Which is by the way, your answer. Concentrating on feelings instead of logic is precisely what blokes do when Temptation’s hovering.”

That’s cool, really is, since women have libidos too and yes, we give in to temptation too.

What stands out to me is that none of the women I know who cheat, have experienced the kind of soul-searing Guilt that Mason describes. It’s not exactly that they are callous, but they’ve accepted their own folly and somehow made their peace with it.

It may be a fact that there are probably fewer women in such situations than men (okay, let that just be opportunity rather than character tilting the stakes). Be that as it may, shouldn’t it be easier for an average man to reconcile this conundrum? Either be strong enough to withstand temptation & wise enough to avoid it. Or lay your guilt to rest. And yet it appears, they carry it around like a festering, burdensome sore, never resolving it and mostly adding to it.

The old adage,

All men are dogs!

…used to sound to me like Anticipatory Bail. Ever notice that it’s only cheating men who say that? A sort of ‘I can’t help it, I’m a man’ thing.

Somehow I’m not sympathetic. Truly womanlike, I want to say, good job he can’t get out of the guilt then. He deserves it. Consider it my repartee to the guy who told me,

Why do women have periods? Because they deserve it!

At least I only bleed once a month. Guilt bleeds you every waking, conscious minute and if you don’t know how to tackle it, the rest of your life is an endless pursuit of distractions from your own thoughts.

How about the book itself? I guess I liked it. A small part of me, the cynical one still holds out asking,

Do real men, I mean the ones walking around everywhere really think like this? About love and a special someone and the need for a ‘spark’ over and above good looks?

And then I think of Adi, Moksh, Rohan and I have to say, at least some of them do.

Sex & The City – The Book

I loved, loved, loved the series. I’ve quoted the episodes on this blog ad infinitum. Look, I even have a special SATC quote generator running in my sidebar!! And of course I went for the movie with my galpals decked out to the nines and full of trepedition. The movie wasn’t quite as great but I guess that’s to be expected. The show works precisely because it is short, sweet and gives you no real answers, only a few dozen more questions. Exactly the way a chat with a close girlfriend would.

And then I chanced upon the book. Sex and The City by Candance Bushnell is a compilation of her columns run under the same title and is the source of the popular TV series. As I’m wont to, I skimmed through the first chapter and satisfied that it was exactly as I remembered the first episode to be (Once upon a time, an English journalist came to New York…), I bought it.

I’ve spent my free time all weekend reading it. And I have to say, I rather had to trudge my way through it, on principle. It was almost like reading Atlas Shrugged, which effort I gave up some three-fourths into the book and quit without ever having encountered the real John Galt. At least I made it through this book.

Are New Yorkers really that cynical? I mean, I’m a Mumbaiker for crying out loud, I pop an unhealthy dose of pessimism, top it up with a generous dollop of  jadedness and wash it down with pure venom every damn day. But the book made even me sick. It gave me a headache. Yes, that bad.

The sleeping around is not liberated experimentalism, it’s just desperation. The relationship tangles aren’t normal-maddening-complex stuff that people all over the world face, they’re just plain bizarre.

The TV series is almost sweet in comparison and that’s saying some when you consider Samantha’s pan-sexual experiments, Carrie’s toxic boyfriends, Charlotte’s obsessive Stepford wive complex and Miranda’s control freakiness. Well at least all of that is laced with humour, honeyed with some awww moments of friendship and romance and dreaminess and jazzed up with those fab clothes and shoes.

The book on the other hand is exactly like 3 a.m. on a wasted Saturday night when you realise you’ve been drinking too much of the wrong drink, not enough to give you a high but bad enough to hit you with a hangover, not sickening enough to make you want to throw up but enough to turn you green. And the noises and bright lights…you just want to whisper “Turn it off” except you can’t say a word to save your life now. That’s how bad the drinking was. That’s ummm…how the book hit me.

Shortly into the book, I was grasping at straws, desperate to find the characters I had grown to love and identify with. Not only are they not there in the same fashion, the TV cast seems to be a tidied up collage of several people who drift through the book. I can’t find Charlotte’s sweetness/cloying behaviour in any one person. Samantha Jones’ scary/diva attitude is diluted in what appears to be just jaded women. Of Miranda there’s no trace and while Carrie shows up, it is hardly as the many nuanced-protagonist we all know.

Sorry Candace, you created something that went on to become a defining cult phenomenon for our generation. But your book was a little too potent. Not all of us can stand our vodka straight from the bottle. A little touch of fluff and pink and most of us enjoy the Cosmopolitan.

%d bloggers like this: