Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada. After recently watching the film for the second time I picked up the audio book to read while I commute. What follows are a few comments and observations.

As is her custom Meryl Streep, who was outstanding, garnered another Oscar nomination which she failed to win. Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci all bring relish to this movie feast about high fashion, power and brutality. By brutality we mean sarcasm, wit and verbal slicing and dicing, no real bloodshed, thank you.

Streep is the ruthless and cynical Miranda Priestly, editor-in-chief of Runway magazine, a New York powerhouse in the international fashion world. Anne Hathaway is a naive, fresh out of school journalist wannabe with aspirations of working someday for The New Yorker. She gets the notion that if she can survive one year at Runway she'll have the experience she needs to go anywhere.

The film is highly entertaining. And for me, the contrast in roles between Miranda Priestly and the Julia Child role Streep plays in Julie and Julia is simply delicious. How do you spell versatility? I spell it S-t-r-e-e-p.

As for the book, what a difference in outcome... not for Andrea "Andy" Sachs, but for me. Listening to The Devil Wears Prada was not a pleasurable experience. First, the reader who performed this Random House Audio Book was the worst. I had a co-worker who once performed his own short stories on a CD which he attempted to sell. Yes, it sounded home made, but even his diction was better than the periodic mumbling in this book.

All that aside, the reviewers at Amazon.com are even less kind about the book itself. The opening salvo comes in the Amazon.com review itself, which calls the author such "an inept, ungrammatical writer" that the reviewer was rooting for the failure of her quest to one day write for The New Yorker.

In most cases at Amazon.com the reader reviews of books like this fall into the higher octaves of praise and appreciation. In this instance, reader sentiments are equally spread across a full range of tones, with plenty of low notes. Here's an excerpt from just one of these...

While author Lauren Weisberger has a grasp of sustaining a narrative... the predictable scenarios she concocts are hardly the stuff of good fiction or, sadly, biting satire. Bitchy asides and brand names are stretched thin, for sure.

Even worse, her alter ego, Andrea, is too bland a creation for the reader to really care about. Her ambition is not telegraphed with any real force since all I kept thinking was why stick it out in a thankless job that is beyond demeaning? Is being a writer at the New Yorker that important? I'm sure it is for the character, but Ms. Weisberger's colorless prose fails to register such details with depth.

Well, in my case, the fifth disc of the audio book that I borrowed from the library was unplayable so that I was spared from having to listen to the very end. It's a pretty good signal that a book is less than compelling when you lose interest just as the story is supposedly building to a climax. Alas...

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