Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lo-prah's Book Club

The Privileges by Jonathan Dee
OK - so I don't know what I think about this book.  It's the story of this East Coast couple who get married too young but make things work because they have some incredible bond and love each other madly.  They live in NYC and he gets a Wall Street job and makes tons of money and then has some illegal insider trading scheme that makes him really a ton of money and eventually he starts his own hedge fund and becomes like really really really rich (4 syllable rich - Paul would say - like ri-hi-hi-hich!).
Anyway, they have this silly life of exorbitant privilege and their kids are these sheltered entitled losers.  And there's really nothing particularly compelling about any of the characters that makes you care one way or the other about what happens to them.  It's not that they are total assholes like Michael Douglas in Wall Street or anything.  Nobody ever says "greed is good," but you can tell that living in the perfect penthouse overlooking Central Park and belonging to the perfect clubs and living as the "perfect people" is all these people ever wanted for themselves.  And they get it - without ever having to endure any kind of struggle to get there.  It's like they are so patently un-selfaware that it never even occurs to them to question their actions or take stock along the way.  Life just happens to these people.  Even the seemingly seedy or illegal activity the guy gets involved in just seems to wrap itself nicely up when he decides he no longer wants to do it.  It's just weird.
In the end they realize they want to "do something good" for they world so they start some multinational foundation to save the world or end poverty or some such shit - blah blah blah.  And throughout the book I found myself asking "do I have the slightest interest in what becomes of these people?"  And the answer was a resounding NO.
You can't possibly feel sorry for these people or their poor-little-rich-kid kids with their stereotypical drug problem on the one hand and self-loathing for coming from money on the other.  The guy who makes his zillions of dollars but can't stop because making money seems to be the only thing he knows how to do - oh, cry me a river, or his beautiful wife whose father left when she was a kid and finds herself forever needing to feel needed and/or wanted by him.  It's just all so clich√©.  But there's nothing interesting enough to really hate about them either - so like I said, I just found myself asking "so what" throughout the entire book.
But then again, it's not like I hated the book or was so bored that I couldn't finish.  (Well, to be fair, it's only 250 pages and it took me over a week to finish reading every night when I went to bed...so I obviously could put it down.)  But, I finished it, so I must have had some level interest.  It wasn't like Prodigal Summer that I started and put down about 10 times before finally packing it away in the guest-room closet hoping to hand it off to some sucker passing through on the way to the airport.  Maybe I just don't get it.  It's probably too complex and/or subtle for me.  I guess I should stick to the Twilight series!


  1. I'm impressed you even read. Magazines and parenting books when I'm out of tricks is the only thing I can get through without falling asleep.

  2. Just for the record, I only read the first Twilight book and then refused to read the teaser chapter (Book 2 Chapter 1) at the end because I knew I'd get sucked into another 500 pages of drivel. Of course, it would only take about 25 minutes to read all 500 pages, but I'd be dumber by the end of it, and I've already lost as many brain cells as I can spare.


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