Skinny Jeans!

Yesterday I went to Urban Outfitters for the first time in, I would say, about four years. I used to live near an UO in the West Village, and every time I walked home from the subway, I would stop by and buy something. Everything from Urban Outfitters seems to be priced around $40-$60, and if it’s on sale, even cheaper, so I would stock up on ski sweaters, fur-trimmed tank tops, artfully torn vintage t-shirts, and the like.

But there comes a time when you realize you have become TOO OLD to wear clothes from Urban Outfitters. It happens when you look in the mirror and you realize are no longer the 22 year old urban hipster chick and cannot pull off the tight tank top, checkered punk pants, thirty butterfly pins in your deliberately dirty hair, black Converse sneakers and blue nailpolish look anymore but rather a 30ish chick who looks better in designer clothes because they are cut roomier (an undisputed fact–one of the reasons designer clothes are more expensive is that they actually have more material to them) and after a certain age, dirty hair just looks gross and it becomes necessary to pay $60 a pop for a blowout before an event.

But I always feel fond of Urban Outfitters. For a long time, even though I shopped there, I always thought that store was just for posers–for people who didn’t know how to shop at thriftshops and the Salvation Army, and wanted that grungy look without having to dig through discount bins to find it. Was I a self-hating shopper? Possibly.

Nowadays I just think it’s a convenient place to find the latest trends without paying through the nose for them–like the SKINNY JEANS phase that is so hot right now. I have been meaning to buy a pair of Earnest Sewn or those Tsubi jeans everyone is talking about. I also wish I still had my black straight Gap jeans from 1989 that were totally skinny and stretchy in my closet. Yet I sold it to a girlfriend back in college when I needed cash. I was always broke in those days, and people always coveted my clothes, so when I needed a little money, I would sell the clothes off my back. (I sold the jeans for $40, $10 more than I paid for them. In my other life, I am a stylist!)

But there was no need to buy the $300 skinny designer jeans after all, because they have a very decent version at Urban Outfitters for $68. I think they’re just the house label, they don’t even have any label on it that I can find. And once the skinny jeans trend passes (which it will, eventually), at least I’ll have only spent less than $100 on it…

So can I still get away with wearing skinny jeans? I could be a grown up and just wear some “flattering” jeans for my “shape” as the fashion magazines advise us to, but I say, to hell with that kind of thinking!

I remember when I was covering Fashion Week in New York, the coolest chick there was a British fashion editor in her 50s (or possibly 60s) who dressed like the coolest teen–she always wore the destroyed t-shirts, artfully deconstructed denim, and wore her hair in a shag. She certainly didn’t dress her age.

Dressing one’s age–where’s the fun in that? Bring on the skinny jeans!

The Sting

Jared was set up!

After reading all the news in the New York Times, The Daily News, ABC, Gawker, and all the sundry links to other media pundits, I’m so officially sick of this story. I’m pulling for Jared. He’s a friend, and a good guy. And as the story comes out, it looks more and more like entrapment. People make mistakes, and there’s a lot of gleeful ‘dancing on the grave of Page Six’ right now, but this will all come to naught. I’m just so tired of the blatant schadenfreude in the Daily News, and the subtle and insidious scadenfreude in the New York Times. Enough! The guy hasn’t been arrested, and it sounds like he never will be–leave him alone.

Anyway, party prep is going along! Invites are finally in and will be sent out by the end of the week!

It’s a month away! Do you know what you’re going to wear yet???

xoxo
Mel

Why is there not a German word for feeling sad when friends are in trouble?

Those of you who read Gawker saw the item on Jared Paul Stern today. The Page Six reporter and editor of the Sunday Book Review at the New York Post is under investigation by the FBI for extorting 220k from Beverly Hills billioniare Ron Burkle. The Daily News had the full story, including the transcript where Jared supposedly asks point-blank for the money.

Mike and I are just totally, totally shocked, jaw-droppingly shocked. Jared has been a colleague of mine since the days when we both wrote for the New York Press. He’s always been a great supporter of my books, and we have kept in friendly contact over the years. He’s definitely a character, but also a really interesting, smart guy, kind of shy actually. Although he definitely cultivates the gangsta pose (see the Black Table interview) in public.

Jared is one of those quintessentially New York people–I remember about ten years ago, Mike and I were walking back from a party in the East Village at around three in the morning, and this cab pulled up and all these beautiful, achingly glamorous people came out of it–the women dressed in long gowns and the men in three-piece suits, and they all looked out of a 1920s fabulous Fred Astaire movie, and then we realized it was Jared and his friends. And we were like, just so awed and a bit dazed by the sight of them–it was like Bright Young Things come to life–and Jared waved at us cheerfully and invited us to join the revelry.

We have always thought fondly of him since then. Some people live in a fantasy world, and I always admired that about him. No doubt, there is a lot of Schadenfreude in New York right now, but here in LA we are just shocked and sad.

Afternoon TV is Illuminating

There’s another article about those "racy, racy books" (like mine!) in Newsday today.  Link to Article

It’s interesting how MTV is elbowing into the literary market that they feel they ‘created’. If I can just add my two cents, it’s not just about putting sex scenes together and throwing brand names around, whenever I write a love scene, I always ‘feel’ it as much as the characters do, and I *believe* their emotions and their excitement, to me, it’s very real, which I think is why readers like my books… And I do such a huge fashion edit on my books to make sure everything is the hottest and coolest and something I own/wear or my fabulous friends own/wear.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a funny story… yesterday morning, Mike and I were watching TV, and the preview ad for Oprah came on… she had Terry McMillan on, the writer who wrote "How Stella Got her Groove back" whose husband (who was the inspiration for the guy who gave her her groove back) came out recently as gay. It was a big scandal, and she was very humiliated.

Anyway, the ad showed Oprah, looking all mad and stern, saying, "How could you keep this a SECRET from your wife??? How could you do this??" and then the camera pans to Terry McMillan, looking SO PISSED OFF, and totally indignant, saying "How could you KEEP this from me???"

And then, the camera pans to the ex-husband…. WHO IS THE GAYEST GUY I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE!!!

Mike and i just doubled up in laughter. I mean, what secret was he keeping??? Anyone who saw this guy would think he was gay in a nanosecond!!

It was just truly hilarious….

Oprah and Terry McMillan just looked so ridiculous.

I mean, it was like if the camera panned to…Carson Kressley being accused of keeping his gayness secret! I’m sorry, but he was just that gay.

I don’t mean to belittle McMillan’s pain, at all–I can imagine how hurtful that would be. But sometimes, people, you just need a CLUE!

I have BEEN there. I was once so IN LOVE with my gay best friend I couldn’t see straight. (Pun definitely intended.) And all my girlfriends were like, "But Mel, he’s… gay!!" (He wasn’t out yet then.) I just refused to see what was right in front of me…

I think perhaps Ms. McMillan did the same… so I am sad for her, that she went through the whole relationship and divorce and heartache…

So many of my best friends are gay, and they were even the ones who told me the guy I was in love with was gay, but I refused to believe them…

But at least, for me, I didn’t lose my marriage, or money, just a few years of college, which are wasted anyway right?

And yes, the guy I was in love with came out the day before graduation, and we remained friends for a long time after that.

Maybe McMillan’s ex is more flamboyant now, or more "out" but..there was just something about the fraudulence of it–the stern indignation of Oprah and McMillan that just looked so off-base.

There’s keeping secrets, and there’s determined blindness.

Let’s keep our eyes open! Have a great day everyone.

xoxo
Mel

More Blue Bloods reviews/Other Fun Stuff

One of my Myspace friends and fellow authors Jennifer Lynn Barnes (her novel “GOLDEN” comes out this July – check it out!) recently reviewed Blue Bloods in her blog…

Here’s what she says about it:

“BLUE BLOODS by Melissa de la Cruz: I haven’t enjoyed a vampire story this much since TWILIGHT. And yeah, I know Twilight was only last summer, but still. The beautiful thing about Blue Bloods, which I’d originally pegged as Gossip Girl with Fangs, is that it manages to do something really unique with the vampire genre. Most of the vampire books I’ve read (and they are numerous) fall either in the category of scarier thriller types that tend to bit a little more literary (Peeps, Thirsty, and to some degree, Twilight) or they’re straight up chick lit set against the back drop of the high school world, with normal teenage concerns reigning supreme along with more fangy dangers. Blue Bloods doesn’t really fit into either of these categories. It’s set against the backdrop of upper crust NYC, but the setting doesn’t feel gimmicky, and best of all, it’s motivated. The back story that de la Cruz invents (that the original pilgrims were vampires who came to the new world for a fresh start) and the setting she chooses (high society New York) are connected- many of the socialites can trace their ancestry back to the Mayflower. The logic of that connection alone makes the whole story somehow more believable than most vampire books. The vampire mythology used in this one is different than what I’ve seen elsewhere, too, and there are some great twists. All in all, a great read- I highly recommend it.”

Yay!!!! Thanks Jen!!!! You totally rock!

More fun stuff that happened today…

My baby brother (who is 26) emailed me to say he found my website and blog! And he said, how come he has to find out about my stuff through Amazon? I have been too busy to tell my family and close friends about my blog/website and it’s kind of funny to think of people who know me (too) well reading my public “journal”. Because the “online” persona isn’t quite the same as the “real” face we show our loved ones is it?

I also got a little worried because now my parents know exactly how much I spend on clothes. Ack!

Other fun things I forgot to share…

When the Naomi Wolf article/rant against the Gossip Girl books came out a couple of weeks ago, I got several excited and very happy emails from my sister and several close friends, which all went something like this: “YOUR BOOKS WERE MENTIONED IN THE TIMES!!!!!”

The article mentioned The Au Pair books in passing, and this one tiny mention in a very negative article slamming the whole genre, in the paper of record, was enough to make those nearest and dearest to me very excited for my career. I love that!

All publicity is good publicity…

Which is weird because a couple of years ago my book THE FASHIONISTA FILES was reviewed in the “Books of Style” section in the Times’ Sunday Styles and I got not one call or email about it, I don’t think anyone even saw it…Huh!

Well, it’s Saturday and I’m just procrastinating working on ANGELS so I should sign off now and work on it.

xoxo
Mel

Book News!

Some fun book news…

BLUE BLOODS has been sold to France! It will be published by Michel Albin, the same house that published THE AU PAIRS and SKINNY DIPPING. In France, the Au Pairs is called “Un Ete pour tout changer” – The Summer that Changed Everything. Fun, no?

Also, FRESH OFF THE BOAT has been selected as one of the year’s Best Books by the Bank Street Bookstore Children’s Book List. Yay!

Till next time…

xo
Mel

It’s my party and I’ll stay home if I want to

You know how when you plan a party, you get sooo excited about it, and in your head, you’ve already put on your sexiest dress, your reddest lipstick, your highest heels, and you feel like you’ve already danced too widly and drank too much and woke up with a hangover, before it’s even happened?

That’s kind of how I feel about my big two-book launch party in May. I’ve been planning it for months now, getting all the stuff for the AWESOME goodie bags, figuring out what kind of fun stuff we’ll have at the party–blowouts from celeb stylists! makeovers by celeb makeup artists! a fashion show! shopping! what kind of food (mini pizzas!) and drink (Blood Kisses – basically a cosmo combo of my two book titles Blue Bloods and Sun Kissed for 21-and-overs) as well as Glaceau Vitamin Water and Tab Energy!

I even have the dresses I’m going to wear– a black satin Marc Jacobs dress with a string of pearls for Blue Bloods and then halfway through I’ll change into a sun-splashed Diane Von Furstenberg dress for Sun-Kissed! My family is flying out for the event, as well as some friends from Los Angeles, and I hope to see all my friends from New York on the big day…

But I know that on the day of the party, I’ll want to do nothing more than STAY HOME.

Because, really, how can any party exceed the expectations I’ve already built up in my head?

Ever since college, the start of my party-planning career, I have always been stricken by total party anxiety before the event–

What if no one shows up?

What if it totally sucks?

Maybe we just won’t open the door. Maybe we’ll just tell people the party is canceled!

I looooove throwing parties. When I lived in the West Village, the back yard of my building connected with the two other buildings, and I threw HUGE parties in my backyard every summer… I got kind of famous for throwing parties, and I still have fond, fond memories of every party I’ve thrown.

I swore I would never grow up to be the kind of person who threw boring dinner parties where no one got smashed and the most exciting thing that happened was a charades game… UGH!

My kind of parties were always the ones with the lights-out, open-bar, scandalous hookups, and blaring house music…the ones where you wake up and three of your best friends are passed out on the floor the next morning, along with one couple no one knows holed up in the bathroom…

Then we got really nice furniture.

And well, that was the end of that.

Before, we’d always let the apartment get trashed (we’d find cigarettte butts wedged into the hardwood floors, etc) but now, no way. Although I like to think our dinner parties aren’t boring since I’m very generous with the wine bottle. And we have never resorted to Charades yet. Although we have been known to bust out the Trivial Pursuit. (Ach, I’m cringing.)

So..the party… everyone is invited, and it’s going to be so fun, and I can’t wait for it to be all over so I can just resume my regular life again…

And if on the day of YOUR big party, you feel like locking yourself in your room and not going out until all the guests leave, I totally understand…

Great Reviews of Blue Bloods!

From Kirkus’ May issue!!!

"A juicy voyeuristic peek into the lives of rich Manhattanites–who happen to be vampires. As shown by a diary in a handwritten font, vampires came to this country on the Mayflower. In contemporary Manhattan, the ensemble of protagonists attents an elite prep school. They’re old souls, because vampires return in new shells (bodies) indefinitely; however, until mid-adolescence, they don’t know it. Fifteen-year-old Schuyler, intelligent and vaguely Goth, has no idea she’s a vampire. Neither does Bliss, newly arrived from Texas. Mimi and Jack, glamorously haughty twins with a suspicious bond, already know the scoop; the adults know too. The others are meant to learn slowly and keep strictly to the Code (for example, never suck so much blood that a human dies). Name-brand clothing and luxuries abound, but a mysterious danger lurks. Someone is killing the supposedly immortal. Schuyler’s destiny is to bring the vampires–cast out of heaven with Lucifer–back into a state of grace, but her immediate goal for the next installment is to find the murderer. Delightfully trashy."

AWESOME!! I love that I am delightfully trashy. I think they called The Au Pairs simply trashy. I am MOVING UP in the world, my friends.

I also found another great review of the book on a reader’s website:

"Blue Bloods" Melissa De La Cruz

With an increasing trend towards horror in YA literature, we’ve seen a plethora of vampire novels recently. Some of the better ones include "Peeps" and "Twilight". I am pleased to welcome "Blue Bloods" to the list of good vampire novels lately.

The plot is similar to most vampire books. Vampires, here known as Blue Bloods, are hidden from society, and there is a ruling government. There is a set of teenagers around whom the story revolves that not only discover their heritage as vampires, but also an ancient evil that could destroy the world. Naturally, no one beleives them and they must single-handedly save everyone from the threat. Luckily, the characters are more original than the story. Set againt the gritty backdrop of New York, the characters are real, wry, and funny. Okay, perhaps a Texan belle and some twins with incestual habits aren’t exactly ‘real’, but they’re certainly interesting.
De La Cruz seamlessly blends several genres including horror, fantasy, historical fiction, science fiction, and general fiction. The end result is this tantalizing piece of literature that luckily is appetizing to humans and vampires alike.

~Robbie, 17bookmobile.cjb.ne

THANK YOU ROBBIE!!! You made my day!!

All this praise can get to a girl, I feel like taking the day off and just skipping down the street going la-la-la-la-la… but alas, I have the Blue Blood sequel MASQUERADE and the first book on Angels on Sunset Boulevard to write, so no day off for me!

FUN "B-LIST" sightings…

The other day Mike and I were at the Poquito Mas (US Weekly calls it "Jennifer Aniston’s favorite Mexican taco stand") and we saw John Krasinski from THE OFFICE. (He plays the bashful guy Jim with the crush on the receptionist.) He was with a really pretty girl who looked like Thandie Newton. He was wearing jeans and a black American Apparel zip-up hoodie, the same one Mike was wearing. This is the essential cool-LA-guy hoodie, every time we go out, we see at least two other guys wearing the same one. Mike’s is all faded now but John’s was all crisp looking. He had a tan, and is really cute and thin. Not at all pasty like he looks on the show. I think he ordered a burrito. We tried not to stare too much.

Then yesterday at Fred Segal my friend MC and I saw Blythe Danner and Lisa Rinna. Lisa Rinna’s lips were like so pumped up, like Goldie Hawn’s in First Wives Club. She looked a little scary–the lips were way too swollen. Back away from the collagen, Lisa! Lisa was wearing a bandanna, sweats and a cute little zip-up top. She has a great body, it looked so flexible and limber. She didn’t walk, she SWAYED.

Fred Segal is such a funny scene, there’s been a lot written about it lately in the New York Times and the New Yorker, as if it’s this mythic LA place. But really, how different is it from Barneys? It’s all about showing off your new handbag. I counted five Fendi Spy bags, three Paddingtons, and several Guccis. It’s the tribe talking to the tribe. You know how people who shop at Barneys wear the clothes they bought at Barneys when they are shopping at Barneys? To show they belong? People like to hang out there because the cafe is outdoors but also private, something kind of rare, and there’s all that great shopping. Alex K in the Times sounded as if she was a little intimidated by it, which is weird—I mean, if any chick has attitude, she does.  And for the record, the salespeople there are REALLY helpful and friendly. My only beef is that the Ron Herman boutique upstairs seems more like a showroom–they send so many of their clothes out to the stars and the stars’ stylists there is hardly anything left on the racks. And the place is always so empty of shoppers, it feels weird when you’re the only one there.

All this talk of shopping is making me want to go out and spend, so I’ll sign off for now!

Vacations in the comfort of your own home

I have some sad news to share–I am on a shopping diet.

I know, I know. It’s TERRIBLE.

I think it’s the reason I’ve been SO CRANKY lately – except for the blog about the Tri-Fab (what my husband and I call “FabulousFabulousFabulous!” in shorthand) launch party for my two new books in May, my other recent posts have been almost GLUM.

It’s probably because I have been living in the “real world” all this past month – and no, not the one in Key West.

When I shop, I escape from the world, and I go on vacation in my head. Every new outfit, every new bag, is a peek into a whole new life, a whole new situation–for instance, last month I just bought a mutlicolored ruffled caftan ($115) from Polka Dots & Moonbeams (a really cute store on Third Street that sells very “LA” stuff-C&C t-shirts, T-bags dresses, jeweled flipflops) and when I put it on, I thought, I’ll wear it strolling on the beach in Cabo! I’ll wear it in Malibu when I go to the Crossroads Diner and bump into Britney and K-Fed! Or, it’ll go with me to Saint-Tropez this summer! One caftan equals three great fantasies. And where have I worn this? Nowhere! But that’s not the point. I just get giddy thinking of all the wonderful places I could wear the new outfit.

When I was just out of college, and my best friend Morgan (who is gay) and I were living in what we came to realize was “low-income” housing (it was a three bedroom for $1200 on 23rd St! We just thought it was a steal until my mom came to visit, looked at the vinyl floors and the garbage cans INSIDE the lobby and our doddering elderly neighbors, and appraised us of this fact), we would hole up in Morgan’s room–with the airconditioning blasting on high–which was SUCH a luxury for us, since we had lived through consecutive summers in New York City without one–and mix up a batch of pina coladas, and declare we were going on “vacation” because the air-conditioning reminded us of being in hotel rooms, and the pina coladas of being on a beach.

I still get nostalgic remembering all the great vacations we embarked on, without ever leaving 23rd Street.

It also reminded me of that episode on AbFab where Patsy and Edina are totally rocking out, the lights are off, and they’re dancing wildly, the lights are flickering on and off like a glitter ball, but suddenly Sapphie turns on the lights and it turns out the girls are just in their own living room, and not at a cool club, and Patsy was just turning the lights on and off to make it seem like it was a dancefloor. They look kind of sheepish at the realization, but it’s so TRUE.

After years of going to nightclubs, nothing has ever been as fun as just Morgan and me rocking out on the couch. The ashtray overflowing with cigarettes, the pitcher of colada on the coffee table, and every edition of European Vogue spread out in front of us. Friends–they’re life’s vacation. BWAHA HA HA HA…I hate when I get so sentimental! I really like this new word “caggle” – which I read in the Observer – a cross between a cackle and a giggle. CAGGLE. Nice.

More often than not, shopping has been my ticket to escape–books too, although shopping sparks my imagination more, since I am too worried about being influenced by books that are similar to mine, so my reading pleasure tends towards the kinds of books I would never write, like Kathryn Harrison’s painful confessional novels and the like. I never watch “The OC”, “Laguna Beach” and I haven’t picked up a Gossip Girl and A-List book in a long time. Ultimately, we pull from the same sources, and I don’t want to subconsciously copy, or subconsciously pre-edit myself since those books might have “gone” there too.

But since I’m on a shopping diet, there has been no escaping in a while. And lemme tell ya, life without escape is pretty lame!

Mike and I are buying a house, so we’re trying to suck in the financial gut, I’m just glad I was able to score my Chanel classic bag before the lockdown!

I’m on massive deadlines too, which have resulted in my having THOSE DREAMS again. The ones where I’m about to not graduate from high school because I did not research or write or turn in my Art History term paper. I have this dream ALL THE TIME on deadline, and not once have I been able to tell my panicked high school self in my dream that I DID graduate from high school and there is nothing to worry about. It’s just my brain freaking out that I have two novels due and neither of them is in any shape for delivery, which is the same feeling as having wasted the semester doing nothing and then finding out one is going to flunk out because of one’s laziness.

So, compounded with the lack of shopping and the doom of deadlines, it’s been pretty frosty here at chez Mel and not just because the temperature is always 66 degrees. (BWAH-HA-HA…)

I also bought a five-inch wide braided belt ($110) which I have lately worn with everything–Harpers Bazaar declared this the season of the belt, and who am I to argue? It’s really fun to put it on top of all the floaty tops and tunics I own–it automatically gives you a waist! Although at the store, the salesgirl said, “Um, maybe you want to not cinch it so tight, it should lay, not squeeze.”

Lay not Squeeze!

Girls, it’s a manifesto.

I’m excited to wear the big belt on top of my Chloe jacket like I saw a blonde Amazon on Robertson wear it the other day.

But it’s been a month since the big belt, and I’m already a teeny bit bored of it. I’m such a trendy person, I love ANYTHING new and shiny, like Mini Coopers and Hummers, when they first came out…but now I’m over them. Minis now seem overly cutesy and Hummers, well, just gross.

By the way, I always say how much things are, because it’s the first question that would come to MY mind when I read about shopping–how much? I hate when people don’t say how much they spent – it’s integral to a shopping story, don’t you think? Because if you want it yourself, you would think, “Oh, that’s a good price for that, maybe I’ll get one too” or “Oh god, Byatch spent way too much, what was she thinking?”

Anyway, maybe I’ll just whip up a batch of pina coladas, turn the lights on and off with a flick of the wrist and make out with the husband and pretend we’re in the VIP room at the Spider Club…

BWAHA HA HA HA…

Everyone’s Entitled to their Own Opinion

Yesterday my editor at HarperCollins emailed me the happy news–that Fresh off the Boat, my autobiographical novel about a 14 year old immigrant girl’s first year in America, was selected as one of the New York Public Library’s “Best Books for the Teenage” for 2006 (this means books published from the prior year).

I was really excited and I emailed the news to my whole family. Fresh off the Boat is a little different from my fun, escapist Au Pairs novels, and it’s a book I wanted to write ever since I survived freshman year in high school. It’s also the book that has garnered me my best reviews, and this made me think about the first-ever review of my book that I ever read.

The BAD one.

Cat’s Meow, my first novel, was published in 2001, and as a new author, I was very, very excited about its launch. I kept checking Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com just to see it posted on the site, with all the other books. Until I sold my first novel, for years, going to bookstores or libraries became very painful for me.

I literally would feel so sick in my stomach looking at all those wonderful books on the shelves, thinking that I would never see a book of mine among their ranks. I even stopped reading, denying myself my favorite activity–it just felt like the world had said ‘No’ to my dreams and to be a frustrated writer was just too hard to bear, especially when I was making a living writing computer code.

So when Cat’s Meow was sold, and then published, it was the happiest time of my life, and then I saw it–The Kirkus Review–the first review of my work, ever, in public. It was on Barnes and Noble, and it was a BAD review–an AWFUL review, it was so bad, that websites that covered the book publishing industry quoted from it, saying that my book (and my writing career) had “no lives left” (some kind of play on the “cat” in the title).

The review didn’t just say my book SUCKED, it said women would “burn their Blahniks” upon reading my book, because they wouldn’t want to be associated with my main character. YIKES!

And the weird thing was that, as I was reading it, I didn’t even realize the reviewer HATED my book until the very end–when he or she just comes out and says it. I turned to my then-boyfriend (now husband) in shock and horror. Mike was just as upset as I was, but his reaction was anger–it’s hard to have something hurt a loved one and not be able to do anything about it. He tried to console me, but I felt awful for weeks. That same sick feeling in my stomach returned. I believed I would never be able to write another book ever again, no one would ALLOW me to right another book ever again.

I told my parents, and like Mike, my mother immediately wanted revenge–the reviewer’s head nailed to the door, while my dad merely shrugged and told me to dismiss it, because “everyone is entitled to their own opinion” and reading books is a subjective, personal pleasure–there is no one great objective scale on which art can be judged. Stuff you love, someone else will hate. There was nothing I can do to change what someone thinks of me or my work.

At the time, I tried to come around to my dad’s way of thinking. But it’s taken years to really understand what he was saying–Madonna always said that if there were 100 people in a room, and 99 of them loved her but 1 did not, she didn’t care about the 99, she would be obsessed with making that last person change their mind. That was kind of how I felt–I didn’t care that Cat’s Meow ultimately got AWESOME reviews –it was even featured in the New Yorker! Ha! All I could think about was that one BAD review…

But not anymore. I guess I just grew up. And I’ve published more books since then, and I’ve had my share of bad, midddling and great reviews for my work. And when Fresh off the Boat got UNIVERSALLY great reviews, particularly from Kirkus (I have forgiven them now. Peace.), it felt good, but interestingly enough, not as great a high as the low the bad review took me too…

Because by this time, I knew my dad was right. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, and you can’t change how people think about you, or your work, or your clothes, etc… You need to learn how to just live with it, and know that the freedom to have an opinion exists for you as well…

Which brings me to the New York Times Book Review piece today, by Naomi Wolf, on The Gossip Girl, A-List and Clique series of books. It’s a scathing review of the genre, she basically says that these books overturn the traditional viewpoint of moral values, like how poor-girl Claire in the The Clique wants to be more like rich-girl Massie rather than rebel against her materialistic values. Wolf called these books “candy covered corruption”. (My Au Pairs books are developed with the same company that created all of these books.)

And as I was reading it, I just thought, well, you just don’t get it… these books are guilty pleasures, and one of the things that is FASCINATING about the Clique is the way the Claire character isn’t the typical goodie-goodie–she wants what everyone else really, honestly wants too–to be popular. I very much enjoy the GG and Clique series, (I’m not a huge fan of the A List for some reason) and they strike a chord with readers–they are well-written, fun, escapist, with real, complex characters. I thought Wolf put out a cheap shot mocking Cecily Von Ziegesar for saying how Cecily thinks her books as “aspirational”, Wolf writes acidly: “As if that’s a good thing.”

Why is it so wrong to be aspirational? I don’t get it–it’s got a nice word in it “aspire” and to be aspirational means to want something MORE for yourself. I just read Jay McInerney’s new book The Good Life, and part of why I enjoy his fiction is because it IS aspirational–at 17, living in South San Francisco (“The Industrial City”), I read Bright Lights Big City, and I wanted so much to MOVE to New York to experience all that–dinners at the Odeon, inside jokes on the Colombian Marching Band, nightclubs, and in The Good Life I love all the details on how Park Avenue apartments are decorated, and what kind of olive oil to buy. (I thought the book kind of fell apart in the post-9/11 chapters, but I enjoyed everything else leading up to it.)

And as I was reading Wolf’s piece, my dad’s words of wisdom rung in my head: Everyone’s Entitled to their Own Opinion. Even Naomi Wolf. I wasn’t a big fan of The Beauty Myth either.

In more FUN news–I had lunch at Joan’s On Third the other day and who walked in but Kirsten Dunst! She looked so fab, she had long, messy red hair, a huge white v-neck T-shirt (probably like Hanes or Fruit of the Loom, it didn’t look like one of those “designer” white T-shirts), tucked into tight, tight, tight olive jeans and a thick olive belt looped around her tiny waist. And chic Lanvin flats and a big slouchy leather bag. She’s a doll, she waited on line like everyone else (although I noticed that the owner gave her a big hug), got her curry chickpea salad and beet salad and went on her way.

Then last night we saw David Lynch eating dinner at a sidewalk cafe in Los Feliz, with his shock of white hair and black suit. It was cool, we are big fans. My husband is the one who recognized him. Then today at the Coffee Bean I saw Michael DesBarres! Admittedly, he’s a D-List celebrity- those who even recognize his name must be Duran Duran fans, like I was. I saw The Power Station in concert in 1986, and Michael DesBarres subbed in for Robert Palmer on the tour, and so he’s a celebrity in my humble opnion! 🙂

Hope everyone is having a great weekend! BLUE BLOODS comes out in less than a month!!
xoxo
Mel