Wednesday, February 11, 2009

book review: last chance saloon

marian keyes' last chance saloon is the archetypal chicklit book. stock characters (the skinny, neurotic one, the chubby, bubbly one and the gay man, plus peripheral characters, equally predictable. all of them are in their early 30's and live in london and none have any real responsibility) shop, drink, diet, obsess, and go through crises. in the end they are happy, well dressed, well partnered, and well shod. not to belabour the point or anything, but the last pararagraph is
'to life!' seven glasses clinked in the middle of the tablewhile seven chorused, 'and men with big willies!'
i'm not deriding the book, though. not at all. fluffy, silly books like this serve a purpose. today i had two small, feverish bodies draped across me and i wasn't exactly about to read dostoevsky. similarly, when i was pregnant i couldn't get enough of the girly fluff. for people who don't watch sitcoms or chick flicks, these books are fantastic escapism. last chance saloon didn't change my life or teach me anything, but it entertained me through many tedious hours.

but before i let the book and the genre off the hook completely, i have a few questions.
  • why are there never lesbians in these books? frequently a flamboyant gay man, but never a dyke.
  • why are there no people with mental illness or physical handicaps?
  • why are they all nonreligious? there's always one person who is investigating her spirituality, but she's the flaky, gullible one.
  • why is no one non-mainstream? no goths, punks, hippies, never the most distant glimpse of a metalhead...
it's the homogenized humans that bug me. maybe what this genre needs, in order for me to embrace it fully, is a book proudly featuring a one-legged hindu lesbian with down's syndrome. her best friend would be a post-op trans man who works at walmart and listens to bluegrass. can anyone point me in that direction?


  1. a one-legged hindu lesbian with down's syndrome... you mean your mom?

  2. Now, it's been a decade or so since I read this book.. but I've read others of hers. And, there's mental illness! Read "Anybody out there?" if other people's suffering gives you kicks. Can't promise too many goths or lesbian hindus though.