My mission in life...
20 March 2009
...I have decided, is to mock Jodi Picoult mercilessly. I can't help it. I know she's popular. I know a lot of people read her, and we just have to be happy people are reading. I know it's not nice to hate people at all, much less people you've never met. But God, do I hate Jodi Picoult.
She's got a new book out, Handle with Care, and if you want to read 477 pages of unrelenting and unrepentant ugliness, consisting of a baby being born with a degenerative disease called OI (osteogenesis imperfecta*) and her mother's wrongful birth lawsuit against her former best friend and OB-GYN (contending that her OB-GYN had seen evidence of the disease early enough in the pregnancy that the mother could have aborted, but had not told her), this is the lighthearted novel for you. Throw in the fact that the mother's a former pastry chef and periodically, weirdly, there are pastry recipes thrown in, and the creepy factor of this novel increases exponentially. Oh, and if there was any doubt as to which character is speaking when, even though each chapter is clearly labeled with that chapter's narrator's name--the chapters are actually printed in different fonts.
My God. Is this what we've come to, as readers? I've watched television and played video games that were more intellectually stimulating than this, so if this is the literature we're clinging to, well...I don't know. But it does make me sad. I don't even understand who can read books this ripped from the headlines, this tragic, not to mention this unbelievably long. I think that's why I keep beating my head against the Picoult wall; short, positive schmaltz I can understand. Although Tuesdays with Morrie was not for me, it was short, and it was uplifting. THAT I can understand. But nearly 500 pages of tragic, depressing, not patrticularly thoughtful schmaltz? Who has the energy to read that after a long day of just trying to make it in this world? I simply do not get it.
Now. Because nobody can illustrate how bad Jodi Picoult is better than Jodi Picoult, here's a little prose sampling. Enjoy:
"For two months now, we had known that you'd be born with OI--osteogenesis imperfecta, two letters of the alphabet that would become second nature. It was a collagen defect that caused bones so brittle they might break with a stumble, a twist, a sneeze. There were several types--but only two presented with fractures in utero, like we'd seen on my ultrasound. And yet the radiologist could still not conclusively say whether you had Type II, which was fatal at birth, or Type III, which was severe and progressively deforming. Now I knew that you might have hundreds more breaks over the years, but it hardly mattered: you would have a lifetime in which to sustain them." (p. 6.)
"The outcome of this recipe is a work of art, if you can make it through the complicated preparation. Above all else: handle everything with care. This dessert, like you, is gone before you know it. This dessert, like you, is impossibly sweet. This dessert fills me, when I miss you the most."
Ugh. Just re-reading that makes me depressed. Have a good weekend, all.
*To her credit, Picoult does suggest at the end of her book that charitable donations can be made to the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation.