Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Devil Wears Brooks Brothers

I just finished reading The Story of My Life by Jay McInerney. So why, you may ask, did I just read a book of questionable literary value which was first published in 1988? Two words: John Edwards. As you know, John Edwards, while running for president, was having an affair with a woman who became pregnant, named Rielle Hunter. I mean Lisa Jo Druck. I mean Rielle Jaya James Druck. I mean Alison Poole. The baby was born, The National Enquirer figured it all out, and Edwards denied everything. Then he admitted everything. The question for me was how the mother of this child ever got close to Edwards in the first place.

Rielle Hunter was well known in certain circles before she became pregnant with John Edwards' child. Here is her Wikipedia entry now, although I don't know what it said before she had this baby. Thank God for Obama, because if The National Enquirer had broken the love child story with John Edwards as the Democratic Presidential nominee, it would have been like handing McCain/Pailn the election on a silver platter.

What does this have to do with reading books from 1988? Seriously, read the Wikipedia entry. Or better yet, read this. It seems that Rielle Hunter, or Lisa Jo Druck as she was then known, was the inspiration for a character named Alison Poole, who appears both as the main character and voice of Jay McInerney's The Story of My Life and as a less significant character in Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. Both authors have included her in their later works as well.

I read American Psycho several years ago, and was so disturbed by it that I wanted to throw it away so that some innocent reader didn't stumble upon it at my garage sale or among books donated to my local library. Instead, my friend, Suzy, insisted that she was going to read it anyway, and that I might as well lend her my copy so that BEE didn't make any more money on it. I agreed, on the condition that she throw it in the trash as soon as she finished. I never followed up on that one. Still, the idea of two authors sharing a character was enough to make me want to read another book that included Alison Poole.

Is Rielle Hunter really Alison Poole? Or did Rielle Hunter feel pressured to act more like Alison Poole after reading about her supposed self? In many places, Jay McInerney seems to see the future. One of the passages that resonated with me was this: "When I was thirteen I started wearing my father's Brooks Brothers and now my standard outfit is one of those big old fat businessmen's shirts - sixteen and a half thirty-four, untucked of course - leggings, white socks, and loafers or sneakers." Don't Edwards' people read? The GQ people sure do. This is a photo that they published when they did a story on Rielle/Lisa/Alison.

Obviously the implication is that she is wearing John Edwards' shirt. I guess that she forgot the leggings, socks and loafers. And the underwear. I did a quick Google search to see if I could find out Edwards' shirt size. No luck but 16 1/2 34 doesn't seem out of the question. Then there is this passage, where Alison is surprised that the sex was good, even though they ". . . didn't do anything special. No video cameras, costumes, equipment or special effects. Just good old-fashioned sex, like the kind Mom used to make." Seriously. And I was shocked that someone would make a sex tape while enormously pregnant and leave it in someone else's house? That is definitely something that Alison would have done.

While The Story of My Life is nothing like American Psycho in terms of violence, it still won't be on my shelves for the long term. It is a book that was written for the 1980s, and just doesn't stand the test of time. I fell asleep several times while reading this book, which is unusual for me, especially with such a short book. The Story of My Life does serve, however, as a proper introduction to Alison Poole, whoever she may be. And now I do find myself replying "that's the story of my life" anytime anyone voices a complaint to me, like Alison would have. At least the only residue from my brief relationship with Alison is an annoying catch phrase.

Next up, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I've already started it, and can't wait to read more!

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