When Kate Beth Heywood swerved into my blog and started following me, I was pleased to find that she–like me–is fleshing out her dreams of publishing books. And she has done so here.
I’ve swerved into a few books thus far because of the blogosphere. And since I have now forced myself become a “one-book”reader, instead of emotionally and mentally balkanizing myself into a lifeless, procrastinatory fog, I have to get to each of them in order.
This one is the lone exception, for two reasons. One, the book is not very long, and two, it is not one that intends to take the reader very far past the second dimension. And this is on purpose, and makes sense. Why? because it is about the two-dimensional world of social media, and how disaster is waiting right around the corner when two-dimensional people are armed with said ordinance.
In short: a young, aspiring screenplay writer (Constance)is flailing away in the margins. One day, the mega-star actress (Jennifer)she follows on Twitter accidentally follows her back–against her policy of following anyone. This lone “follow” gets her sandbagged by an interviewer, and instead of copping to her thumb-stumble and denying she knows the writer, runs headlong into a narrative about how much she loves her work.
Needless to say Constance is now trending like wildfire. And thus a narrative that neither of them want to give up is in place. And an endless series of lies, double-deals, an malevolent, self-loathing mistreatment of underlings takes place. Social media only makes things worse, and all parties attempt to ameliorate huge missteps in social media with social media.
Without giving away too much, let’s just say that Constance knows nothing of the business, seedy managers, underhanded and duplicitous secretaries and the like. And they manage to show up. And everyone is in it for themselves. And people get hurt. And killed. And arrested.
The book really does illustrate in sometimes laugh-out-loud moments, generated primarily by the inescapable shallowness of all involved, that the business could very well cut close to this in real life. This is why one thing I appreciate about the author is she did not try to overdevelop characters that are really stuck in maturation infancy. They are shallow, and so there is no need to go back to “high school, 1985” to try to present us a sociological backdrop by which to see them.
I’m reminded of Seinfeld here, insofar as much of that show’s strength lie in the structure of “four people talking at a diner table.” Not one of them is in a conversation with anyone else–they are all four–wrapped up in their own insular worlds without being physically isolated from a anyone. Much of this book has that feel to it.
To her credit, the author messaged me in Goodreads to say she appreciated me buying, and ultimately reading her work, because she knows it’s not “what I would usually read.” She most likely means that this novel does carry a fair amount of F-bombs and assorted pejoratives. I for one appreciate that kind of respect, as I am a writer that completely abstains from those things, unless they are warranted.
However, in its intended scope, the book does very well. The story is very linear, so following it does not require one to make antediluvian leaps in the brain. And oddly enough, it would make a pretty nice screenplay adaptation in its own right–a statement from me which is completely true at the outset–an asset that, had the primary character possessed, would have saved her from a mess of trouble.