Wherein Danielle Steel’s Friends Forever is given the once over by this week’s guest, Mr. Ernest Hemingway.
First off, no one has any friends. Forever? Not a real concept. Don’t bore me with nonsense about metaphysics. There is only the here and now. And the lonely river that winds through the forest. So anyone care to explain why I’m standing around with my dangle in one hand and a book that looks like an ad for laxatives in the other? Ah, hell. At least the fish are jumping. They twirl and dapple in the morning light. I bait and cast, hook one. It knows when to stop fighting. I prime the whetstone and then slowly skin the trout. Place it in a pan with bacon grease. The bones and eyes turn white. The whiskey flask clicks against my teeth. Steel? Did you know that’s what “Stalin” means in Russian? So right there, a big strike against the missus. I turn a few pages and already someone is crying. Is this a novel, or a handkerchief to blow your nose in? I light a cigar. Try to untangle the plot. But there is no plot. It’s like trying to untangle a wet napkin. Lord, does this book need to grow a mustache. I doze off in the hot sun, burning holes in the first twenty pages with my Montecristo. That’s not an entendre, ladies. In my dream I am not having a dream, ’cause dreams in books are for fruits and Frenchmen. I snap to and then wade through a bunch of crap about five friends. Line after line of them talking about how close they are. No one’s close to anybody, okay? We’re all alone in this lousy world. And then we die. Shotgun or bull’s horns or in the ring, it’s still coming. Coming for me, coming for you. But not these kids. They’re busy expressing their feelings. In soppy language that could turn a man fruit if he swallowed enough. Back to the characters. Such as they are. I’ve seen better characters on a cereal box. Anyway, in the first chapter Izzy, Gabby, Billy and Andy meet on a playground. I guess there was a sale on names that end with Y at the five-and-dime. They hold hands and swear they’ll always be together. Not likely after they grow a few pubes, but that’s someone else’s novel. The kids think nothing bad will ever happen. Spoiler alert: four chapters later, The Bad Thing happens. So the Ends in Y posse is sad for another hundred pages that read like the prose version of being gored by an Iberian Brahma. Is this news? Everything’s sad, people! Hell, you try having your balls shot off in the trenches. You try driving an ambulance through lines of artillery. Bunch of pantywaists. Once I bagged a rhino in the Belgian Congo. Came right at me. Dropped it at thirty meters. Kind of like this book. Dropped it in the river, thirty meters away, where it floated into a pile of beaver shit before sinking to the murky bottom. I swear, they hang people in Cuba for lesser crimes than Friends Forever.
On a scale of one to ten, I squat down and give it a big cornbread dump in the bushes just outside camp.
Wait, what am I doing here again?
Is this another one of Gertrude’s tricks? Did Toklas put laudanum in my steak? Are we in Idaho?
Oh yeah. Now I remember.
Bottom line: Maybe Friends Forever isn’t so bad.
And maybe Noel Coward spent last weekend in a Reno motel with some pretty ladies.
Frances Macomber had a crappy life, and so should whoever wrote this tripe.
Oh and by the way, in Hills Like White Elephants, the girl is pregnant. It’s not that complicated. The “procedure” is an abortion. Is it coming together now, or should we all take some more MFA classes? I swear, some days I feel like the last literate person on earth died on the Somme.
And we should all have died with him.
Danielle Steel? Not on my watch, pal.
Save that weepy drivel for someone else’s time of the month.
A special thanks to this week’s author-channel and celebrity medium, Madame Blavatsky.
See A Cold Hard Bite of Steel for additional Steel lore, and a first person run-in with the famous authoress.
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