Friday, May 14, 2004

I was saddened to learn that, according to an AP wire story, 23 million fewer books were published in 2003 than in 2002. Yet Publishers Weekly reports this week that the Book Industry Study Group has projected that book sales will increase 2.8% in 2004. It would be nice to know the number of additional books this is, but to learn that, one probably must pay the $239/year it takes to subscribe to PW.

I bear some responsibility for the decline in book sales, or at the least, I'm part of the reason sales are not more robust. I'm a library junkie, as regular readers of "Musings" are well aware, and a bookstore browser. But I ask myself, shouldn't I support the industry that is the most important to me? What would a further decline in the book industry mean to my life? Fewer publishers, fewer small publishers, publishers of all sizes publishing fewer books and taking fewer risks with their publishing choices. I don't like any of those outcomes. So it's off with me to the bookstore!

In a recent post, I mentioned I would reveal the title of another dud--a book I read that was a waste of precious reading time. It's The Right Address by Carrie Karasyov and Jill Kargman. I am at fault for this reading mistake. An article in the New York Times, a web description of the book, and the bookjacket flap (not to mention the cover!)--all indicated that this was an inappropriate book for me.

But I had to read it because it is about New York, and being enamored of New York City right now, I couldn't stop myself. Yet the book reveals a satiric glimpse at one minuscule portion of the city's population, the most boring mini-group, of course. The Park Avenue socialites, the women who bounce from charity luncheons to plastic surgeons' offices, the stereotype that has been caricatured in movies, television, books, and now in The Right Address. Wall-to-wall stereotypes abound.

Melanie Korn, the new bride of the owner of one of the nation's largest funeral home conglomerates, desperately tries to break into Park Avenue society. Hailing from a childhood spent in a Florida trailer park, she has much to overcome. But Melanie is resourceful, clever, and blind to her incorrigibly gauche ways. One is supposed to laugh at the caricatures of New York's elite, but I couldn't crack a smile. This book is vapid. Nothing happens for pages and pages. I was on page 90 and no major plot set-up was in sight. A bounty of meaningless conversations leading nowhere. A flawed book, providing insights into a world that I've read too much about already, the least interesting people in New York.


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