Non-Fiction

Sex And The City

By Candace Bushnell

Published by: Warner Books
 

Reviewed by Justine Manzano
 

     It’s almost a rule to most people who read many books—The book is always better than the movie.  But is the book always better than the television show?  I picked up the book: Sex and The City by Candace Bushnell to find out.  I love the series Sex and The City, and I had hoped that the book would give me more insight into the characters I’d grown to love.  Well, I got the answer to my question.  And the answer is no. 

     Why not?  Because this book tries to be something unique, and it is.  Too unique to really get a grasp on.  Sex and The City is actually a collection of Candace Bushnell's columns for the New York Observer.  They are about gossip and love and sex, naturally, and at first, they are brazenly interesting as simple studies of the sexual lifestyles of successful city females.  But somewhere in the middle, after five or six columns, they take on a heroine, and I am unsure of whether or not that was meant to be an insult to our intelligence.

      For those first few columns, the story is told from a first-person point of view, and we assume we are hearing Candace herself discussing sex clubs and “testosterone females”.  Then, all of a sudden, the story switches gears and becomes the story of Carrie, Candace’s friend.  Carrie, who is a writer and seems remarkably like Candace, is desperate, strange, child-like and surprisingly annoying.  The story becomes about her romance with the “perfect man”, Mr. Big, a rich businessman who turns out to be not so perfect.  The side-stories in each column portray little bits of information that aren’t all that coherent.  In the end, I found it just didn’t work—at all.

     It’s immediately clear what Ms. Bushnell is trying to do, but it doesn’t fly.  She is trying to sound like a gossip column, while also explaining the desensitizing of woman towards sex in a place where one can meet any number of freaks, assholes, or losers.  The trouble is that her side plot-lines often don’t leave you with any kind of understanding of why they were even written about (although, sometimes they come together famously—just not enough to make the book enjoyable) and all that the reader ends up feeling like they’ve read is an overgrown gossip column with a bit too many details. 

     I didn’t want to compare to the series, but I find that I must.  The series follows four, likeable, fun, and kind women who sometimes fall on their ass, but mostly do their best to survive and find love, or at least good sex, in a city that can be rather insensitive.  They lean on each other for support and that friendship becomes the core of what the show is about.  The book on the other hand has no such solid relationships, the roles of Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha from the series actually having started as pale nods in stories that don’t even slightly resemble what they later became.  With love being so fleeting, it would be nice if friendship could stand the test of time, but the characters in this book are too frivolous to count on anyone much.

     It’s hard to care for the characters when they don’t care about much themselves and it’s hard to follow writing that lacks definition, tense, and a direct point-of-view.  In the end, if you want a story that you’ll love and that makes you laugh because it’s true, all the while warming your heart a little, watch Sex and The City on TV.  If you’d rather depress yourself about the state the city is in, read the book—no danger of sentimentality or even likability there.

 

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