Sunday, 16 December 2018

‘FLAWLESS’ BY BURT HIRSCHFELD





During the early 1990s when I was still a young hip lad (in my head, anyway) I was on a mission to track down every single Burt Hirschfeld book in existence. It didn’t matter how many or how much they cost, I just wanted to complete my collection that started with this featured title, FLAWLESS (1985, Jove). This one has one of the best paperback covers of the glam ‘80s. I kid you not on this. Ever since the successful publication of Judith Krantz’s SCRUPLES, every publisher in America wanted to capitalize on the trend by focusing on the face of the heroine on their covers. In the case of FLAWLESS, she is a mix of Brooke Shields and Kim Delaney rolled into one. Simple but effective. The novel? About the same.


FLAWLESS delivers mostly the goods when the supposedly main character does take center stage—in about a third into the story. What the author does instead, with this tale of family feuds and shady business deals amongst the jewel industry, is concentrating on the male side of things and keeping everything in check with a fast-moving plot. A well made task, if you ask me, but one which could have had a higher benefit had it focused more on the heroine's point of view (like the book back cover teaser makes you believe). As is, the novel reads more like a ‘60s pulp actioner than anything else. Yet narratively speaking, Hirschfeld still knows how to charm his readers, and the path to the final climactic scene makes one yearns to grab other hirschfelds in the future, like I eventually did in the long run.


As of today, I almost own the complete collection of Burt Hirschfeld’s novels. There are still some titles I am in no hurry to get. Titles that failed to strike my fancy, whether they are non-fictions or TV show/movie tie-ins. If I do come upon them by chance, believe me I will purchase them. As of the end of 2018 I have not had the pleasure of catching them whenever I visit a bookstore here in Canada or around the world. Sure, there is always the Web to rely on but I just refuse to pay a bundle for titles I will most likely never read. Besides I got so many unread novels by this guy that I’m willing to settle for what I own right now. And you know the old saying, too many books so little time...  I have no idea if I’ll manage to go through all of them but I sure will try.



Until next post—Martin
1984 Hardcover






Sunday, 2 December 2018

‘DECEPTIONS’ BY JUDITH MICHAEL



I wish I could say I had a ball with Judith Michael’s first novel DECEPTIONS (1982, Pocket) but it ended up being just an OK experience and here’s why. Remember when I first saw the adapted miniseries on NBC back in the day, when network television actually took the time to produce glittery nighttime melodramas such as this one? No? Well, I talked about it here. LACE, SCRUPLES, HOLLYWOOD WIVES, all were adapted with big fanfares and big success. In the case of DECEPTIONS, however, it turned out being just a modest hit, but I digress. What I’m trying to say here is that problems of the rich ruled television in the ‘80s, and I was lucky enough to have seen my share of them. So it comes as no surprise that after salivating over the two-parter that was DECEPTIONS I needed to read the novel ASAP. Yes, I was that kind of a geeky gay. In fact, I still am. Duh! 

So one morning I took my sweet little ass to Coles bookstore and searched for the novel. I found it fast enough. It had the tie-in cover featuring star Stefanie Powers. Suffice to say, I was thrilled. Finally I was going to be able to get into the nitty-gritty of the two twins switching lives for a week. I mean, seeing it playing out on TV is more than fine but getting into the psyche of these characters in a 500 + page narrative is a lot better in my opinion. But surprise, surprise, it took me more than 10 years to read the thing. No, let me rephrase that. What I actually mean is that I waited more than 10 years to pick it up and read it. People who know me on this blog will probably recognize this pattern of mine, the tendency to give up on a read in favor of a juicier one, and at the time it was mostly Jackie Collins’ backlist. 

Cut to the end of the ‘90s and what do you know, I finally read that DECEPTIONS I so eagerly wanted. I come out of it satisfied but not wowed—and I never pick up a Judith Michael novel again, until this year when I decided to re-read it before embarking on its sequel A TANGLED WEB. Though I do think DECEPTIONS is still a fine specimen I am not again that keen over it, mostly because for the most part the novel turned out being more of a Harlequin romance-like story than anything else. There are a lot of ‘My love...’s thrown in in between fine narrative. And I feel that the story drags on a bit, mostly when the focus is on rich Sabrina becoming Stephanie the housewife. Not enough time is spent on the other sis, plain Stephanie now a UK jet setter, which is what I really wanted the book to delve into. And before you know it, kaboom! her life is taken away by the explosion of a yacht. So of course the focus is back on Sabrina. What a girl to do, right (no, not me; her)? Especially now that she’s tempted to stick with her new life and hunky professor hubby, who, by the way, still has no idea she isn’t really who she says she is despite having boned her more than once. I can hear you all declare, but, but you already knew all of this from the get go, and you’re right. I should have been ready for the deception (yes, I went there). I just wish the novel could have been better handled overall. I am in no hurry to read the sequel now. Oh I’ll get there, eventually. I just hope it’ll deliver the goods as it should, as all books should.





Until next post—Martin 
UK PB edition