Monday, October 24, 2016

Beverly Hills Housewives vs. Hollywood Husbands

I’ve been reading Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Husbands for two weeks!  Since October 11th to be precise.  And, pitifully speaking, I’m only 330 pages into the 543 given.  And it’s not necessarily a slow read.  
You’d think being in the Did Not Finish (DNF) groove by now (after jumping the ship on Nora Roberts’ Stars of Fortune and Tayari Jones’ Leaving Atlanta) that I’d just let Husbands go.  I am tempted to stuff it into the wells of my bookshelf; out of sight, out of mind.  Yet, I don’t quite want to at the same time.  Maybe I'm enchanted with something about the book.  Because when I try to pick another read in its place, I’m drawn back to finish Husbands off.  I don’t want to cut Collins just yet–hoping this book would be as solid as the previous in the series, Hollywood Wives.  But man is it hard to keep engaged with this slog.
But first, let me do a quick summary…
The book’s primary characters consist of a trio of Hollywood buddies.  Jack Python is a talk show host.  He's married to a cheating actress, though his philandering ways are anything but subtle.  Anyway, Jack Python is slatted as the nobleman of the trio, given that he’s raising his Hollywood diva sister’s estranged child.  He's also the character designed to become the reasonable and pragmatic voice within the group.  Something that's evident by how he complains about being "over" the Hollywood scene.  Then there’s Howard Soloman.  He's a crackhead and movie studio owner with a line of divorces up to his bloodshot eyeballs.  Not one to swallow impulses, he has his eye on a friend’s ex-wife.  While, of course, presently married to an actress.  Without a doubt Howard is his own enemy, and struggles with the pressures of owning a movie studio that needs a good film to stay relevant.  Last there’s Mannon Cable.  He’s the irresistible heartthrob actor in the group.  He's also still hung up on his ex-wife (whom his friend, Howard, secretly covets), while his current wife tootles around pregnant with his child.  However, sadly, Mannon can’t stand the thought of either one.  He just wants a hot movie role and his ex-wife's jealousy over his new relationship.  You know, the one with the pregnant wife that he can't bother to show any love to.
Besides the men there are a host of women players as well.  Silver Anderson is Jack Python’s disunified sister.  Nonetheless, she's rich, famous, commandeering, and–despite her haughty attitude–probably the only likable character.  She does a lot of jacked-up things to her family, but she's a diva you're willing to throw out your moral code to entertain.  As of late, she’s eloped to marry a down-and-out broke-in-the-pockets wanted barman.  Naturally, his allure is that he's risky and thrilling.  He also has a penchant for knocking her “bottom” out just the way she likes.  Or at least enough to keep him around to the chagrin of her "loyal" staff.  Who, of course, are making plans to get him away from your highness to bring order back to the Hollywood castle. 
Let me see who else…
–Errr, well that’s really the only four that matters.  The remaining cast are more or less facilitators of each of principle's story thread.  So they're just sprinkled within to either kiss ass (in some cases literally), be insufferable to the principles, or push a scandal.  However, as far as the 330 pages I've gotten to, I haven’t a clue who’s pulling chains around here yet.  There's dirt to spread, but nobody's spreading it on each other; principle or secondary alike.  What I can say is a few of these secondary players (like the belittled housewife) operate as underdogs ready to bark back at their tormentors.  Which leaves one to continue reading and guessing how.  So the book is not a total slog.
Additionally, there’s an outsider's narrative in between all these story threads.  Taking readers back to a small town in 1974, it's a narrative featuring an abused teen turned arsonist heading for the Hollywood hills to “light” up one (or more) of the principle's life.
So why do I find the book so challenging to continue reading?  Especially when all this crazy, dramatic, and wild stuff is happening?  It's simple: every single character–with or without one–thinks only with their dicks!
It’s true.  I swear to you.  Yet, hear me out on this.  
I'm not new booty to a Jackie Collins novel.  Beginner level?  Yeah.  I mean, she only has like thirty or so published titles after all.  While I've gotten about five down over the years, she's too prolific for any reader not to recognize her niche and style anyway.  So I get the sex-interest in her works.  It always has its role.  Besides, she leaves her sex scenes mainly to the reader's imagination, as opposed to being graphic.  To me this, effectively, doesn't stunt her story telling pace.  However, all the focus about where one character would like to put his member can wear a person down.  It's especially irritating when you’re trying to find a single reason to like said character to begin with.  Given the personality traits of this particular cast (from thirsty to misogynist; bigot to Judus), "liking" doesn't come easy.  Or easy enough to keep me flipping pages while vested for some story resolution.  

But that’s just what it is.  The characters are already substance abusing superficial chumps in tuxedos/taffeta gowns.  And, naturally, as vapid as they come while in need of a reality check or two.  Those elements I can endorse, because that's what I came to the party for.  But constantly gauging worth based off an erection got old.  Fast!  Seriously, every other concern of the characters revolved around how he or she could manipulate a situation to get some ass.  Or calculating the use of sex as a weapon.  It.  Is.  Just.  TIRED!  Commonplace?  Maybe.  Devolving?  Absolutely.  

Given the book takes place in Hollywood circa 1980s, I can only imagine the ick...
But hold up!  I had a second annoyance with Hollywood Husbands...

The second issue that wore me out was the constant use of homophobic slurs in both inner and outer character dialogue.  Once or twice to elicit reader's rage in the culprit I get.  Four or five times and it's unnecessarily done on purpose to reinforce the already enforced.  In retrospect, I felt the same way about the racial slurs thrown around by the villain in Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes.  Once or twice and I'm acclimated to the character.  Profusely and you've box-off and cheated the character of creativity.  And in some cases pushes a character into a caricature.  

Besides, everyone knows an asshole the minute he or she opens their mouth.  Right?

Anyway, you can’t tell me these characters orbit and collect pay checks in the Hollywood universe–yet draw their knees together at the sight of a gay woman or man.

Sticking to the subject, let's talk about one of the most ridiculous and obnoxious characters on the Hollywood Husbands call sheet.  Give you guys a little taste of what you'll find in the book.

So backwards-ass Jade is this supposedly beautiful supermodel.  She has the height.  Freckled look.  Long coppery hair.  Lean body.  She has all the talent a print ad and runway designer needs.  She's spent her career booked from New York to over seas.  Then she decides to settle down in Hollywood to break out in commercials.  Expanding her portfolio and such.  Jade's basically the queen of the modeling crop, and every Hollywood husband‘s fantasy.
Then she finds out her brother and his wife split, and that he’s gay.  Both circumstances devastates poor lily white Jade.  Suddenly Jade forgets the men who has helped her career along its way to success, and begins the tedious process of judging and drawing away from her brother.  You know, because her high fashion modeling career thrived inside of a Quaker camp.
And what’s incredibly interesting is that she spent the last year (if not longer) sleeping with a married man.  Knowing he wouldn't leave his wife (ahem, and kids) for her, by the way.  Yet when she broke the affair off to book it in tinsel town, he came begging for her back.  He had his bag of lies and could easily persuade her with the right words to get her back in his bed.  Therefore, the holy and righteous Jade opens the doors to him once more for one final roll in the sack.  Basically, putting her lust for him to one final test.  Why?  Because Jack Python is waiting in the wings to cheat on his wife with Jade–who skates around him with seductive interest and just ready to bust it in with him.
But dear, dear Jade is tormented by the idea of how her brother coming out will destroy her (yes her!) family.

Yet, (and I stress this) while Jade is a hot mess, you're also wondering if she's the mystery girl of the outside narrative featuring the teenage arsonist headed for Hollywood in 1974.  My problem is I'm too worn of her to continue reading to find out.
Lord have mercy.  Fix it, Jesus...
Okay.  Okay.  Look.  It doesn't matter what happens in the books, so long as the characters realize how f'ed up they are and decide to do something about it.  Only then will I be able to give the book a thumbs up or down.  If they don't learn anything, then it was definitely a waste of time.  Known for weaving these crazy stories and characters, I have to trust Collins on this one.  Sort of like having someone put your contacts in for you so you can see clearly.  Lots of trust involved.
Though I was more or less enjoying Hollywood Husbands, there’s only so many BC Powders one can take to get through it.  I’ll come back and finish it off eventually.  At least for the avatar Jackie Collins created out of her sister Joan, ala the character of Silver Anderson.  At least Silver is a character who owns her shit.  She may be spoiled and despicable, but she's the only character really carrying this book if you ask me.  

Which says a lot

But anyway, hear from the late Jackie Collins herself about the book and you decided what's up.  In the meantime, I'm taking a break and getting into something else!

Do you have a favorite Jackie Collins novel you'd like to share or recommend?  Drop me a comment below about it!

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