Thursday, June 23, 2011
Summer Reading List: Welcome to the World, Baby Girl by Fannie Flagg
Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! written by Fannie Flagg. This is the same lady who wrote an all time favorite, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: A Novel. This book, however, was no Fried Green Tomatoes. I am not going to go so far as to say it was a rotten tomato, but ...well...it was not one I can say I "could not put down".
From Publishers Weekly, "Because so much of Flagg's third novel takes place in the 1970s media-celebrity echelons of New York City, it doesn't offer the regional and historical color and texture of its predecessor, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Instead, Flagg's achievement here lies in a well-choreographed story of loyalty and survival that zigzags deftly across the post-war years, panning in on the never-changing decency of Elmwood Springs, Mo., then pulling back to watch national TV news devolve into sensationalism?all the while drawing us into the compelling life of Dena Nordstrom. Star of America's most popular morning news show, Dena shuts herself down and shuts men out for painful reasons that are unknown even to her. Only after the stress of ambush- and sound-byte journalism brings on a hemorrhaging ulcer does Dena slowly unearth the scandal that, when Dena was four, drove her mother from Elmwood Springs, hometown of the war hero father that Dena never knew. That her mother's nemesis is a newspaper gossipmonger is nicely ironic, although her mother's secret shame seems slightly larger than life. In contrast, Dena's college friend Sookie and great aunt Elner are reminders of how well Flagg can cook up memorable women from the most down-to-earth ingredients, while a cameo by Tennessee Williams is uncannily true to life. Fans may be sorry at first to leave Elmwood Springs for the big city, but even the most reluctant will get wrapped up in Dena's search for the truth about her family and her past."
I just did not get hooked in enough to CARE about Dena. I cared about Aunt Elner in Elwood Springs, I enjoyed Neighbor Dorthy, for the short time we got to spend with her. I could not stand Sookie, or whatever the "best friend's" name was....and I think she gives all of us sorority gals a bad name (we are not all that silly...esp when we are in our 30s). Oh...another character that gave me the willies...Gary, Dena's first shrink who fell in love with her and became a stalker....Flagg tried to make him seem sweet but he comes across to this reader as a freakie stalker and pathetic. I loved Dena's other Shrink, Dr. Diggers...but we do not see her enough to keep my attention.
My most favorite character was Dena's mother. I would LOVE to read a novel about HER. Her struggles and reasons behind her actions. I am not going to go too much into that for fear of giving away too much to those who might still want to read this. When we finally get into all the why's, where's, how's of Dena's mother, it is at the end of the book and so rushed. We spend chapter after chapter reading about Dena's life as a media sensation and news woman...and how beautiful she is...that the ending is so rushed.
I spend a good deal of the book wondering why certain things were included....it does come full circle in a hurried way but there is so much muck, in the meantime, that I forgot I even cared by the time Flagg gets to it again.
There is one thing that I LOVED....Flagg disposes of a character in the most unique and enjoyable way I have read in a long time. It was so unexpected. Not that the character comes to a bad ending, he was bad....but HOW. It is wonderful. If you want to read JUST that part, skip to the very last chapter and look for the part about a "storm in NYC".
Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!, spanned quiet a bit of time in a mish mas kind of way, however most of it was set in the late 70's in NYC. But Flagg fell short in painting a picture of 1970's NYC. it could have been anytime, with the exception of the references to Dena being one of the only women in the news business, etc. I would have loved to picture NYC in the late 70's, like there was no mistake of the timeline in Fried Green Tomatoes. I have not given up on Fannie Flagg, I will read her other books, give her a chance to make it up to me. I loved Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe so much, I owe it to her.
I will give my copy away to anyone who wants it (the first one to post that they want it gets it)....please be in the US. Or you can just hop on over to Amazon and get you a copy for a cheap price.