CBR #88 — Chuck? It’s Your Cousin, Marvin Berry! Don’t Read THIS GODDAMN BOOK!

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I guess the bloom is off the rose for me with Rainbow Rowell.  Maybe she’s like Chuck Palahniuk.  I have such love for her earlier stuff that the later stuff is leaving me a bit sour.  I mean, I adored Eleanor and Park, and Attachments was pretty good too.  But dude, Landline just didn’t do anything for me.  Hmm.  It could be the female protagonists versus the male protagonists.  I’m just making that connection.  Attachments was all about a lonely guy.  And Eleanor and Park had the benefit of getting in Park’s mind, though I did much prefer Eleanor’s mindset to him.  But both the last two books were from the mindset of a woman, and I didn’t dig them as much.

The premise of Landline would make a terrible television show.  It’s about a showrunner who has a chance to create her own new television program.  She’s currently working on a terrible comedian-based sitcom with her partner-in-crime Seth.  She was supposed to go to Nebraska with her husband Neal and her kids.  But she needs to work on the show.  So Neal goes without her.  And she’s left home, thinking that they’ve broken up and because Neal refuses to answer her phone.

That relationship dynamic alone was frustrating.  But now couple it with the premise that Georgie – yes, the lead’s name is Georgie McCool, isn’t that so CUTE – finds a magic telephone that lets her talk to Neal in the past.  See, a Christmas 15 some odd years ago, the same thing happened, Neal was fed up with Georgie and the television bullshit and the Seth bullshit, and so he went home to Nebraska and maybe they were broken up.  And Georgie never called him.  But then Neal showed up Christmas Eve having driven the 1000-some odd miles to propose to her.  So Georgie of the future is talking to Neal of the past.  However, this has no bearing on anything.  Georgie can’t change the past, and talking to Neal doesn’t alter the future.  It might have been a far more horrifying and fascinating novel if that were the case.  Some sort of phonebooth back-to-the-future type shit.

Nope.  Instead, we spend an entire novel with a frazzled protagonist struggling with her love life.  Showrunners have their shit together.  Neal’s a stay-at-home dad.  Yeah, it can be wearing on relationships, particularly since writers work fucked hours and are constantly on call.  It doesn’t make for drama.  It’s like spending time in a washing machine – a story element that involves pugs giving birth to a lesbian relationship and sacs.  I don’t want to talk about it.

Georgie is a flawed protagonist and I can’t deal with her bullshit.  Seth’s a douche, and Neal’s a grumbly douche, and filling a house with quirky doesn’t make it any less ridiculous and annoying a relationship.  It’s the characters of Fangirl blown out to an even more abstractly fucked level.  Lady is successful, wildly successful, but going insane and a mess in her personal life because she has one guy who loves her and one guy who uses her but still loves her a little and then she goes slowly insane with the stress over it.  Not my bag.

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