August 20, 2005

Possibly a vg thing

I've been annoyed for a few weeks now after finding out (thanks to AustenBlog) that Helen Fielding's new Bridget Jones's Diary in The Independent is a subscriber-only perk at the website. Bloody cheek. (Though why is it I don't seem to have a problem with the idea of paying for plane tickets to have Colin Firth serve me free-trade coffee? Serve me anything, for that matter.)

I wanted to see for myself if the Third Coming (er, Bridget's, that is) is a good idea or not. I found both books literally laugh-out-loud funny, very embarrassing because Tom would ask what was so funny, and then I'd try to read aloud a passage only to dissolve in more choking, snorting, weeping laughter so that I looked like a even more of a dolt, leaving Tom even more confused (about the source of the humor and his choice of wife) than before.

I'm not thrilled to hear that Bridget is still dithering between Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy, but then again, I'm not surprised either. After all, she is Bridget Jones and this isn't the Great Books we're talking about. The first column contained this glimmer of hope, which I was able to find excerpted online elsewhere for free: "Really wanted a little baby to love: though not, obviously, weekend nanny to shag ex-husband." And, after the London bombings, "[I have] pride at how well am personally handling the crisis. Not entirely sure where pride comes from as have not exactly done anything except resolving to take trainers to work when wearing unsuitable shoes. But still."

Caryn James in her New York Times* article yesterday hit the genre on the head, writing,
Still vacillating between Mark and Daniel, today's Bridget has not yet escaped her own shadow. But there is something better at work here. The new column is a reminder that Ms. Fielding is above all a social satirist, whose up-to-the-minute skewerings and sly literary voice are especially suited to the quick turnaround of a serial. The three diary entries that have appeared so far have become increasingly sharp, as she has addressed cultural issues central to our time: Jude Law's nanny problem, Madonna's tumble off a horse, terrorism.

Ms. Fielding's apparently offhand observations are crucial to the literary version of Bridget. It's not terrorism that Ms. Fielding sends up, but the clich├ęd responses to it. Bridget's mother, having just come from her neighbor's brunchtime karaoke, says: "You have to carry on as normal don't you? Otherwise the bombers will have won."

The books - "Bridget Jones's Diary" and "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" - may be short on novelistic structure, but Ms. Fielding's literary voice makes them more satisfying than the movie versions, and infinitely superior to her many chick-lit imitators.

In the meantime, I'm sitting tight with my Chardonnay (alright, my Merlot) for BJ3 or until some public-spirited blogger decides to share more snippets.

*you have to register, but registration is free, and you get those nifty recipes on Wednesdays, and Verlyn Klinkenborg's columns among many other nice things, though not (grumble, grumble) the new crossworld puzzles. Just the old -- or Classic, as the Times prefers to market them -- ones.

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