Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Pretty Ugly

It has long been my belief that one should not read anything too taxing or cerebral during the holidays.  Instead, judging by the cover alone, opt for something that promises page after page of mindlessness, insuring that if you lose your place, beginning at any random spot will immediately return you to unengaged tranquility.  Yes, you are reading, but with no obligation to retain or appreciate a single word . But yet you are reading.

Pretty Ugly  fits those requirements.  Plus, it is written by Kirker Butler, producer of "Family Guy".  I have never watched that show - don't really like cartoons except for "South Park" but that's a discussion for another time.  However, the commercials for the show clearly telegraph episode after episode filled with dysfunctional family drama.  

That  sums up this book as well - dysfunctional and hysterical.  No attempt at a socially significant story line here, just loads of laughs.  Come on, admit it,  You know a quirky family dedicated to something you find totally useless - like geocaching for instance. Really.  People spend entire weekends deciphering map coordinates in an attempt to discover a hidden treasure, generally the size of a peanut.  Once discovered, they date and sign a paper wadded up with the gift.  Sometimes they even take the finding and leave a new peanut-like surprise in its place.  An item is cached near LaDeDa but I won't tell exactly where. I enjoy watching the frantic hunt that possesses those people who will implode if they can't find and initial the crusty yellow paper hidden inside of the medicine bottle tucked in...OOPS...no more info on that.

Back to Pretty Ugly.  Miranda Miller's mission in life is to make sure her nine-year-old daughter, Bailey, continues to be one of the most successful child pageant contestants in the southern United States.  But lately, Bailey has been secretly binge eating to gain weight so Miranda will let her retire.  Even worse, the reality show Miranda was planning for Bailey (and herself) has been given to a competitor.

Miranda's husband, Ray, has a wife, a mistress, two jobs, three kids, and one more on the way, a mountain of debt and no friends.  He says he is desperately trying to put his life back together but the pills he swipes and pops during his shift as an ER nurse cancels that assertion.

In addition to Bailey, and the new little beauty queen with whom Miranda is pregnant, the Millers have two boys. They are home-schooled by Miranda's mother, a well-intentioned widow who spends most of what should be instructional time playing solitaire and planning a murder.

Frivolous. Silly. Dark.  At times I am reminded of The Family Fang, another biting dysfunctional family saga, but that novel offers some serious questions about nature v. nurture and other debatable subjects.  Pretty Ugly - pointless  - but so much fun.  Read it and be reminded of someone you know (perhaps you or a relative) who is dedicated to something you see as useless.  Then ask yourself, "If these thoughts and images made me laugh, are they really useless?"  

What am I reading?  Still working on A Farewell to Arms.  Just to remind you - a few weeks ago I was determined to re-read, and in some cases read for the first time, all of Hemingway's works.  Why?  Just to get a deeper understanding and appreciation of The Paris Wife, the story of the great love he walked away from.  Here we are, on January 3, 2015, and I am already thinking this resolution is not going to last much longer.  

Deadline for Death now in stock.  Pick one up soon.  You won't be disappointed.

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