I just got back from vacation, where I lay in a hammock for a week reading a truly horrible book. I was extra salty the whole time because of the sea water and ALSO because I wanted a trashy book to read on vacation, just not a book that was actual trash. There is a serious difference. This book was trash trash. It was made of real garbage.
A trashy book is like something with a lot of sex and confusion and maybe a death. It’s fun and not necessarily well-written but it’s got charm in its awfulness. A trashy book knows it’s trashy and doesn’t take itself too seriously. This book was the most terrible piece of back-stabby, bitchy, sex-negative, self-congratulatory crap I have ever. read. in. my. life. And I’ve read a lot of books, y’all.
I heard the author, Jill Lauren, on an episode of The Moth Podcast a few months ago. She talked about the time when she went over to Brunei to be part of the Sultan’s brother’s harem. I don’t remember a lot about the podcast, but I remember her portraying it like she went over to find adventure and then the Sultan himself told her to suck his dick after hearing from his brother that she was a good lay and she finally opened her eyes to the fact that she was just being used for her holes and came home. That was my takeaway. I thought maybe the book would be about the decision to go over there and what it was like to be there, with some details about fucking a sultan’s brother on the side. God, I was so wrong.
Mostly, the book is the writer whining about how abusive her adoptive dad was, vacillating between loving him so completely that she was on the brink of a meltdown when her plane to Brunei left immediately after he had a surgical procedure, to dropping little snipes about how her mother always just took the abuse, to detailing a time when he beat her. It was such a weird slushy mess of “My poor dad!” and “My awful dad!!” which I think is something that’s common but it’s also something you should figure out before you set it down in type for other people.
So anyway, rich white girl from the suburbs moves to New York and drops out of school, like a TOTAL rich white girl would, and decides to start stripping, then escorting, when her daddy cuts her off from the credit cards. Of course, the first escort experience she details is extremely boring once you get over the bone(r) she throws you: that the client is a FAMOUS RADIO PERSONALITY OOOH AHHHH. Then you’re just like, oh yeah, I don’t care. The rest of her escorting experience is summed up with an account of an impotent dude poking his scaly fingers into her twat for hours, and this weird holier-than-thou attitude about how other women look at her. Something about how women would smirk at her when they saw her, because they’d spotted the prostitute, and she’d saunter past like ohhh you don’t know how rad my life is you frigid bitches. But her life kind of sounded awful. Her disgusting and boring accounts of escort life were interwoven with constant “What was I doing?” and “I really was a good girl!” bullshit that made my eyes roll back so far into my head that they still haven’t come out, that’s why I’m dictating this review.
The only reason I can come up with for her decision to go join a room full of fuckholes for some prince in another country is because she wanted a bunch of money, and her acting career wasn’t working out. She was fucking for money in New York and interning or volunteering or something at some play house with a bunch of other actors, whose names she totally fucking dropped, you better believe it, I just don’t remember any of them. I guess she got bored with that or wanted more money for the fucking (I would too). So off to the palace! This is about where she starts trying to write off fucking a misogynistic rapist douchebag asshole for large amounts of money in a foreign country as some kind of prince-and-me fantasy, as some kind of LOOOOVE.
God, this woman.
Surprise surprise, she gets embroiled in the drama with other women almost immediately. Between bitchy remarks and observations of other women in that high school mean girl “Oh isn’t it sad that she’s like that?” and “I only say she’s ugly because I’m concerned for her” kind of way, you also get treated to descriptions of how great our heroine can dance and sing and move her ass to music and how she always manages to be awesome at stuff. Bully for her! So of course she ends up in bed with the prince, and I think you’re supposed to see it as some kind of marvelous accomplishment? Like she beat out all the other beauty queens for some kind of penis prize? I don’t know. That part was very weird. She gets fucked, and it sounds awful and dehumanizing, and when she sees how it affects other women, she wants it to happen again and again. Abysmal. This part really was, to me, the pit of human despair.
The sex scenes, though. You think they’re going to be interesting or at least critical since she’s been such a giant cunt about everyone else and also described everything down to what the walls in the palace look like, but no. They are seriously the most boring thing ever. They’re like the steamy, rose petal, silky sheet dreams of middle-aged Boyz II Men fans, except a little dumber. Also she’s annoyingly talking about kind of disassociating from herself because it’s obvious that the dude is just jerking off into her because he can. She never once mentions having a good time with him, or coming, or even enjoying half a second of his dick’s presence. Totally healthy. Then there’s a bunch of lines scattered throughout the book about what he must be thiiinkiiiiing and what’s it liiiike to be a priiiiince and junior high journal-worthy analysis of why this asshole is the way he is and why it’s still impossible not to love him.
So there’s in-fighting and a whole lot of woman hate crimes happening, all because everybody wants this prince’s magical money dick. She tells a lie to get her rival sent home after detailing pageafter page how the girl was a real bitch for calling her fat or whatever, then turns on the “I’m a good girl!” bullshit again by lamenting DID I REALLY JUST DO THAT OMG. Yes, you did, you did that so you could make more money and have more dresses and get paid by the guy who keeps a harem of women who need money, some of them underage and in bad situations. You did it! Good job!
Eventually the sultan wants a blow for himself, and she gives him one. Unlike her Moth story, that’s not when she decides to go home. She goes home much later after getting to go on a massive and limitless shopping spree in Singapore. There’s literally a chapter of only high-end shopping porn. Once she’s back in New York with a shitload of money and stuff, she talks about all the stuff she buys there, and about dating a music producer dude (whom she names specifically), aborting their baby, breaking up with him, and moving in with someone else. She gives some embarrassing detail about her ex having been molested by someone who also shows up in the story, and possibly being gay, and having bad teeth, which I found to be really offensive, even more so now that I’ve been on her website and seen a comment about how she gave people false names to protect their identities. What about this guy? Ugh.
There’s this whole description of her decision to get a nasty-ass sounding tattoo of some flowers and snake parts and stuff because of finding herself? Or hiding herself? Or…I don’t know. I didn’t get that part. Some kind of sparkly princess bullshit about expressing something with “a pussy tattoo,” which she really wants you to know is a BIG DEAL and stuff. She keeps saying “pussy tattoo” for about four pages, I think that’s literally all that’s printed on those pages, and of course there’s a line in there about how this was before Ed Hardy so yeah, she was into tattoos before tattoos were mainstream and shit.
Well, guess what she does with herself after she finds herself? She gets herself right back on a plane and flies back to Brunei to fuck the prince some more. Except this time it’s passed off as something she does because she’s a WRITER and WRITERS DO THIS STUFF OKAY and also she maybe needs money a little bit but mostly WRITING. At this part, I was thinking “god, this book is so terrible, if this is the best she can do, I hope this is the part of the book where she decides never to write again.” (Which makes no sense. But there was definitely a point in the book when I thought “Soooo does she die, or…?”) This time she shows the prince her pussy tattoo and all the foggy Boyz II Men video sex scenes start up again but there’s something missing because now he’s in love with a new girl, whom he wants to marry, and you better believe you get a less-than-positive description of this girl’s bad skin and fat butt. That’s MY disconnected-from-reality man with three wives and a hundred girlfriends, you bitch! Hands off!
I think somewhere around in there she goes home, after taking a ride in a Maserati or something and dropping a terrible metaphor about fast cars and princes. She must have gone home, because then the book goes on a tour of her genealogy as she finds her birth mother and the two take a dance class. The best I can say about this is that it was readable. If I had to write a blurb for this book, I’d say “This book is the worst thing ever created by humankind but that one part was sort of readable I guess.” Blah blah blah. I think it’s in the epilogue that she talks about another magical and completely superficial life event passed of as a giant transformation when she announces “I’m married now.”
“I’m married now.”
“Oh, you are? You have really come a long way! They don’t let just anyone get married!”
I’m married now, she says, so I’m like totally different and I know myself and shit. Then she yaps a little bit about adoption and having a house and then it’s over. And no, you cannot have your time back!
My discomfort is not with sex work. It’s with horrible men who have a lot of money, and the women who bend to the point of breaking to get it, women who flick one another out of the way for it. Prince Jefri of Brunei is a terrible man and I wish people would STOP FUCKING TERRIBLE MEN.
My problem is also with how angry this woman clearly was (and is, I’d wager) at other women. Something about how she described her mother as powerless and never standing up to the man who abused her made me think she was hiding how mad she was at her mom for staying with her awful dad, for never taking her side with him. That makes total sense when you see how she treats other women. She talks about most of the women in the book as if they’re stupid or simple or too nice or just beneath her somehow. She even drops in a reference about going on a date with another woman (it comes out of nowhere, for no reason, except to boast in that way that people do sometimes? You know, to try and shock you? But it’s like–nobody asked, so it comes off really weird). I had a boss that used to do that: you’d be talking about the weather and she’d be like “I’m a lesbian, you got a problem with that?” I also went to art school so I have been in tons of situations where someone will say “I like pancakes” and some straight girl with blue hair will be like “I mean, I dated a girl once, whatever, NO BIG DEAL.” Anyway, our heroine does this, then proceeds to NAME the woman and say it might have worked out if this woman hadn’t been “such a short bitch.”
I also don’t like it when assholes like this fly the sex positive banner and then inject everything with their brand of sex-positivity. In this book, she encourages young women to have naked photos taken of themselves so that when they’re old they will realize that they weren’t ugly. Less than a moment before she was talking about how some of the photography sessions were icky and creepy. But DO IT ANYWAY because later when you’re ugly you will want to look back on your pretty times. Also how can a sex positive person NOT talk about sex? Good lord. After flying halfway around the world, we got more descriptions of her own naked ass and her ex-boyfriend’s bad teeth than we do of royal dong. So I guess, really, Jillian Lauren can only be described as self positive, because she’s just about the only thing she’s qualified, willing, or even interested in talking about.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but this book was very poorly written. I mean, “She was a real strawberry in a room full of Strawberry Pop-Tarts.” GODDDDDD. My thirteen-year-old self wrote that, I’m pretty fucking fairly sure. Not only is it yet another example about how dumb groups of women are, how WOMEN as a whole can be plopped into a big bucket and thrown in the sea because really there’s only one or two of worth or intelligence among the lot, you know, but good grief, lady. What the fuck is up with the horrible metaphors? There was another one about a dude who had the hands of a poet? Or musician? Or something? And she goes on and on about fingers and shit for what feels like 10 chapters but in reality is probably like 2 lines but holy hell. If I talk about this book anymore I think actual poop will come out of my eyes.
Everybody’s falling the fuck apart on social media about Robin Williams. Because if you saw Mrs. Doubtfire or watched Mork & Mindy, you totally knew him and if you post a picture of him and a bunch of people like it, it’s like you’re SHARING THE GRIEF. I couldn’t be more pleased that it’s toning down a little bit now. I thought I was going to vomit blood if I saw one more weepy whiny status message about him. Or one more goddamn post about what some random celebrity said about him.
MILEY CYRUS SPEAKS OUT ABOUT ROBIN WILLIAMS
Oh, well, hey, very nice. What’s that? She posted something on Twitter? Wow, let’s all go read it and re-p0st it and favorite it because life is boring.
The only thing that’s worse is people posting stuff like “Depression is bad for you! If you have it you should dial 1-900-SAD-A-LOT so you don’t kill yourself!” Because it comes off like “OK if you don’t feel good stuff ever, you call this phone number and they inject something into your brain over the phone that makes you stop crying about everything all the time and remembering all the sad things constantly and then you’re better, and we don’t have to worry about you. That phone number is HELP. Go get it, dummy! It’s so EASY!”
It’s not easy. When you’re that deep in the woods, the worst thing ever is thinking about leaving. It’s so much easier and less scary to just stay. Yet there are so many people who say things like “Depression is so sad, suicide is so sad! There’s no reason for it when there’s SO MUCH HELP out there.” Bless their little hearts! This kind of thinking means you’ve never been clinically depressed. It’s when your brain tells you there is no way out, you’re going to die anyway, you ruin everyone’s lives and you don’t do anything right so why not rid them of your presence and let them be happy? Your BRAIN tells you that. And all your thoughts and feelings go right along with it. Why would you ever not trust your intuition? Why would you instead say “You know, I think maybe my thoughts and feelings are totally 100% wrong and I am going to go on out there and get help.” You might, and it’s a miracle if you do. But most likely you won’t. Hopefully someone will come along and say WE ARE FIXING YOU and they help you get to the point where you start to see that what you THINK is the problem.
Those phone numbers are great. They are perfect for helpers, for the friend who calls to find out next steps for your treatment, but to say we have SO many options for depressed and suicidal people and so it follows that we should not have any more depressed or suicidal people, well, dumbass, that’s about the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard. And I read My Life in a Harem cover to cover, so I know!
I couldn’t sleep on Sunday night, not a wink, and I’m thinking about writing to HBO about it. It’s their fault because I watched The Leftovers right before bed and it’s also my next door neighbor’s fault for smoking a cigarette under my bedroom window just as I was falling asleep, filling my room with cigarette stink and making me really mad and cranked up so sleep was REALLY out of the question, and it’s also the upstairs neighbors’ fault for totally not realizing that not only can we hear every footstep and make out every word of every conversation they have, we can also hear every moment of their Squeaky Mattress and Random Moaning Time and it’s not cute at all. When you run into your neighbor in the hallway you don’t want to remember their porn-y sex sounds. But I’d like to know who in the hell would be able to think about fuck else after they’ve heard that. I mean, come on.
Also they have three fucking cats that run up and down the floor all night long, knocking shit over, so even if I retreat to the couch for a respite from their nonstop fucking or conversations, I get no rest. And the dog growls himself to sleep. It’s enough to make me miss that neutered super-creep that lived above us a few months ago, who slunk home every night at 2am on the dot and climbed into bed alone and never had so much as a phone conversation with another human being. It’s ALMOST enough to make me miss him, but alas, he did not like me, and that’s just about the worst thing a human being can do.
Why do you insist on being so terrible?
I mean that in a genuine concern-type of way. Are you sleeping too much? Not sleeping enough? Have you had recurring thoughts of worthlessness? Are you worried, anxious, constantly concerned? I just think that only a person with severe clinical depression would allow Tom Perrotta smack them around to the point of giving him an outlet for his book-turned-sad-ass-TV-show, the title of which sounds like something you’d shove to the back of the refrigerator until it started to stink and you were forced to throw it away. That’s how I feel about The Leftovers: it is irritatingly present. I can’t figure out why. What did we do to deserve this?
Let me first express to you how important television programs are to me. I literally have nothing else to do after work. Am I supposed to go to bars or restaurants? I’m poor! Also, those places are far away from my couch. And TV is way more entertaining. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat there listening to someone ramble about God-knows-what and replayed an entire episode of Parks & Recreation from memory in my head. The only time TV is not better than life is when it’s an episode of The Leftovers. Not only is it boring as hell, it’s fucking jam-packed with the kind of saddy-sad imagery that puts decaying holes in brain that already has depressive tendencies. It’s like, You didn’t need that serotonin, did you? Because I’ma go ahead and show you a really graphic stoning and a cremation and just get rid of that for you. And it’s for NO REASON. The show has actually not given us a reason to feel ANYTHING at all, ever, about anyone, but has given us 1000 things to feel. Who are these fucking people? Why do I give a damn? Because I feel like I should be giving a damn and I just don’t.
Just about the only nice thing I can say is that I appreciate the premise. How fucking creepy! A bunch of people just disappear! What the fuck?! I love a good post-apocalyptic novel, and this premise seemed right up there with some of the best of them. Holy crap, the world has changed forever! What are we going to do now? Well, apparently, you’ve answered that question with “only things that are cripplingly pointless and/or terribly sad,” because that’s what’s happening. I mean, there’s good sad, which is difficult to come by, but you get there by not being cripplingly pointless. In The Road, the father and son had a goal: to get somewhere safe, alive. In The Leftovers, the only goal seems to be “don’t tell anyone about weird prophetic dreams, find something to wear to work, blorp blorp blorp.”
First of all, can we get some more goddamn eyeliner on Sexy Cop Justin Theroux? Can we? Because I don’t think you’ve made his eyes look pretty enough. I mean seriously, he looks like the Sexy Girl from a Tex Avery cartoon. Second, please stop beating us over the head with the fact that Sexy Cop’s Wife left him to join the “Guilty Remnant” (what a fucking dumb name for a cult, by the way, did they run out of good names for cults, you fucking assholes?). I believe we came to grips with this mindblowing fact in Episode 1, yet here we are in episode whateverthehell and you’re still going “ohhhhh that’s his wiiiife! ooohhh wowww! What’s she going to doooo? What about her faaaaamily?” Ugh, fuck you. I don’t care anymore. The shit with the estranged son and creepy cult leader (OH LOOK ANOTHER CULT, HOW WEIRD) is also very stupid. Why the fuck would this kid stick around waiting for a phone to ring? Teenage boys don’t EVER do that, like ever, even if it was the motherfucking apocalypse and God flew down on a broom and said “wait until this cell phone rings” they’d go play Xbox or skateboard or whatever the fuck it was they were all doing while I was calling them when I was a teenager. And the daughter’s sexy friend is getting on my nerves. Do we really have to play American Beauty again? We’ve played it enough, I think. Enough times to be annoyed that there’s a female character whose entire purpose is to make you wonder whether some guy is going to fuck her. She keeps slithering around door frames in her Urban Outfitters lingerie, rubbing her eyes like a six-year-old, crooning goofy shit, and Officer Eyeliner stares at her all slack-jawed like “Am I gonna hit that? It’s WRONG” and she shrugs like “This is the depth of my character’s development, whatever dude.” Licks her lips, thinks of nothing. Then we’ve got the preacher and his comatose wife on the side and we’re supposed to feel extra super sorry for them. His sister’s whole family disappeared on Disappear Day so she should be a total fucking nutcase but really she’s like a wet fart dressed up in Sad Lady clothes. She’s so fucking bland. In one episode, she has a gun in her purse. Ooooh a GUN oh my god NOBODY HAS GUNS THESE DAYS and wouldn’t you think that more people would have guns after a bunch of the earth’s population disappeared? Wouldn’t you think that people would REALLY go apeshit after something like that and start stockpiling weapons? But we’re supposed to Think Stuff about this piece of shit character because there’s a handgun in her purse. I am not stupid, HBO!
It would be nice if an episode of this show would change course once in a while. If it wasn’t so disturbing, the cadence of the disturbing happenings would downright lull me to sleep. Here is the formula, in case you haven’t discovered it yet, for an episode of The Leftovers:
Dramatic thing happens!
Piano music, sadness.
Daytime, snow, driving.
Car accident/nearly car accident!
Depressing thing happens.
Depressing thing happens.
NO. Depressing thing.
Piano music, sadness.
CrAZy dReAMs! POSSIBLE FORESHADOWING
Piano music, sadness.
Cult member frowny face. FEEEEELINGS!
Piano & cello crescendo, sadness.
I am finished, HBO. You are coming dangerously close to losing a customer! I have put up with an entire season of True Blood characters coming up with reasons to all be in the same room at the same time so drama can happen (there’s only so many times they can say “let’s all, uhhh, have a party?” before it gets really old). I sat through an entire fifteen minutes of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and one night even found myself home alone, halfway through a bottle of red wine, watching Coma, your RIVETING 8-year-old, two hour long documentary on traumatic brain injuries. I swear to God, if you start this season of Boardwalk Empire by having Nucky say to someone “So it’s like the thirties now, huh?” I am going to remove HBO from my Comcast bill so fast and so hard that you will feel it back at BO Headquarters. I mean it! I will do it. Enough with the long, drawn-out saddy sads with no discernible purpose. Throw Tom Perrotta out the window. Tie him to a tree and stone him for being awful. Then punch yourself in the eye for allowing him to be awful in TV drama format. You murderers.