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Maneater: A Novel


Maneater: A Novel

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I am coming to you today as an unofficial "foreign correspondent."
At least, this is how Clarissa Alpert would describe me. Alpert,
the heroine (?) of Gigi Levangie Grazer's new satire on life in
contemporary Los Angeles, thinks of everyone who lives in between
New York and California as a foreigner. She has definite opinions
on many important issues: food (good), sex (good), shopping (good),
work (bad). She is 28 (well, actually 31, but that's her
not-so-little secret) and has been supported all her life by her
father. After sleeping "her way, without mercy, regret, mourning,
or conscience, through Greater Los Angeles," Clarissa is ready to
settle down and get married.

A wedding is no problem for dear Clarissa --- she has been
maintaining a wedding binder for years, complete with the best
caterers, hotels and florists. She, who routinely lies about her
"age, religion, mating habits, hair color, plastic surgeries, level
of education, her mother's nose job, her upbringing, her downfall,
her rehab stay(s)," has planned the date of the wedding, the
bridesmaids and the reception menu. She also has the groom all
lined up, but the trouble is, she hasn't met him yet. She has
chosen young Aaron Mason, creative screenwriter and scion of a
wealthy Southern (foreign) family; this is after she crosses off
her list Bruce Springsteen ("too old, married, children [ugh]"),
Ted Field ("rich, heir, ext. rich, likes tall, skinny beautiful
blondes. Who are 18. Who have proof of being 18."), and John F.
Kennedy, Jr. ("rich, good family, married, dead.")

At first glance, Clarissa seems slightly sociopathic, albeit with a
sharp sense of fashion and an even sharper sense of humor. Grazer
wisely never allows her to become too disgusting; Clarissa always
retains a hint of likeability. She struggles with her weight,
friends and parents; her mother is an anorexic Bolivian Jew who
causes Clarissa no end of consternation. Her mother is one to order
a "beet and goat cheese salad, with no onions, no goat cheese, no
dressing, and no beets." Through a carefully choreographed chance
encounter, Clarissa does manage to meet, court and marry the
debonair Mr. Mason with the help of her clique of girlfriends
nicknamed the Star Chamber. Clarissa and her cohorts are bitingly
funny, if a bit stereotypic. There's the good time girl, the warm
and fuzzy soft heart, a hypochondriac, and the obligatory friend
who everyone hates. Grazer's sharp wit is evident throughout the
book. At one point she refers to the "silcone '90s," which is
either a very funny pun or sloppy editing, take your pick.

About halfway into the book, the tone shifts and becomes less
satiric and less successful. Grazer aims for a comedy of errors,
but comes up with a third-rate situation comedy. Clarissa becomes
pregnant and surprise, surprise, finds out that Aaron is not
exactly whom she bargained for. She dumps him, he dumps her, it's
on-again, off-again. She meets his parents. She knows they're rich
because their house has "iron gates that belong, like, outside the
Kremlin or something and a sign on the iron gates stating a clever
name. Only the stinking rich name their houses." There's a
shooting, a birth, a meditation retreat nicknamed "silent camp" and
enough Hollywood hijinks to make your head spin. Oddly, Grazer even
tries to wring tears out of the audience with a weird and
completely unnecessary death.

If you're looking for a few hours of diversion while you loll
poolside, a fruity umbrella drink in hand, MANEATER is the book for
you. It's a soft-core satire of chick lit that briefly transcends
its genre. It's just about as frothy as a Starbucks cappuccino so
joyfully swilled by Clarissa and her friends.

Reviewed by Shannon Bloomstran on January 22, 2011

Maneater: A Novel
by Gigi Levangie Grazer

  • Publication Date: June 6, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 0743226852
  • ISBN-13: 9780743226851