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Today's word on journalism

Monday, November 5, 2007

On Objectivity:

"I still insist that 'objective journalism' is a contradiction in terms. But I want to draw a very hard line between the inevitable reality of 'subjective journalism' and the idea that any honestly subjective journalist might feel free to estimate a crowd at a rally for some candidates the journalist happens to like personally at 2,000 instead of 612 -- or to imply that a candidate the journalist views with gross contempt, personally, is a less effective campaigner than he actually is."

-- Hunter S. Thompson, from Fear & Loathing: CORRECTIONS, RETRACTIONS, APOLOGIES, COP-OUTS, ETC., a 1972 memo to Rolling Stone editor Jann S. Wenner, excerpted in the current (November 2007) issue of Harper’s Magazine (Thanks to alert WORDster Andy Merton)

REVIEW: 'Little Lady, Big Apple' is easy, fresh and sassy

By Angeline Olschewski

October 29, 2007 | As a student, I find that any reading that isn't required for class must require as few brain cells as possible. My creative writing professor said the more work an author does, the less work the reader has to do. Hester Browne is one of those authors, and Little Lady, Big Apple is one of those books.

Little Lady, Big Apple is a sequel to Browne's first novel, Little Lady Agency. For those who have not read the first book, Melissa is a British, buxom brunette, redundant at her job and therefore fired, and feeling redundant in life.

She gets tricked into working at an escort service and when she discovers the fact, she quits. The little time spent with her gentlemen callers gives Melissa the idea that many men out there need etiquette training, fashion training, and sometimes just need a pretend girlfriend to take to company parties. Out of this realization comes Melissa's brainchild, The Little Lady Agency.

Melissa lacks the confidence to pull off these trainings as herself, and takes on an alter ego, Honey, who is a buxom blonde (wig) and doesn't take any guff. Her business grows quickly by word of mouth, and pretty soon Honey has more clients than time. The book's main conflict arises when Honey falls for her client, Jonathan, an American businessman working in London.

Released in February 2007, Little Lady, Big Apple is a refreshing sequel, as sequels go. Between her quirky, dysfunctional family, whose head is a philandering Member of Parliament constantly making Melissa feel like Spam, and a mother who eludes her own sorry reality by knitting scary creatures, the reader experiences quite a few laughs. Combine that with some outrageous and blunt roommates, and you've got the right combination for easy, enjoyable, reading.

Browne uses witty dialogue better than most screenwriters: Mummy shook a handful of pills, and swallowed them. "Valerian," she lied unconvincingly, seeing my shocked face. "Valerian, Vicodin, Valium . . .," mused Daddy, puffing on his cigar. "What's a couple of letters between friends when you're working your way through the narcotic alphabet?"

Her British-speak is a nice contrast to the setting of New York City. It's fun to experience the city through virgin eyes. Browne's heroine is charming and likeable largely because she is not the typical skinny blonde with perfect skin, but instead is well-endowed brunette. She does an excellent job of making Melissa relatable to everyone who has felt "redundant" in the world, or anyone who wonders which line they were waiting in when heaven handed out families.

As a reader, you find yourself rooting for Melissa to succeed and hoping she'll find the courage to wiggle her way out from underneath her father's abusive thumb. The only thing I didn't love about the book was how many times you encounter this situation. There are moments in the book where you scream in frustration the Melissa plays Doormat too long. You wonder why Honey doesn't let anyone take advantage of her, and Melissa lets everyone.

Aside from that, the book is very fresh, very smart, and just what the weekend ordered.



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