I loved, loved, loved the series. I’ve quoted the episodes on this blog ad infinitum. Look, I even have a special SATC quote generator running in my sidebar!! And of course I went for the movie with my galpals decked out to the nines and full of trepedition. The movie wasn’t quite as great but I guess that’s to be expected. The show works precisely because it is short, sweet and gives you no real answers, only a few dozen more questions. Exactly the way a chat with a close girlfriend would.
And then I chanced upon the book. Sex and The City by Candance Bushnell is a compilation of her columns run under the same title and is the source of the popular TV series. As I’m wont to, I skimmed through the first chapter and satisfied that it was exactly as I remembered the first episode to be (Once upon a time, an English journalist came to New York…), I bought it.
I’ve spent my free time all weekend reading it. And I have to say, I rather had to trudge my way through it, on principle. It was almost like reading Atlas Shrugged, which effort I gave up some three-fourths into the book and quit without ever having encountered the real John Galt. At least I made it through this book.
Are New Yorkers really that cynical? I mean, I’m a Mumbaiker for crying out loud, I pop an unhealthy dose of pessimism, top it up with a generous dollop of jadedness and wash it down with pure venom every damn day. But the book made even me sick. It gave me a headache. Yes, that bad.
The sleeping around is not liberated experimentalism, it’s just desperation. The relationship tangles aren’t normal-maddening-complex stuff that people all over the world face, they’re just plain bizarre.
The TV series is almost sweet in comparison and that’s saying some when you consider Samantha’s pan-sexual experiments, Carrie’s toxic boyfriends, Charlotte’s obsessive Stepford wive complex and Miranda’s control freakiness. Well at least all of that is laced with humour, honeyed with some awww moments of friendship and romance and dreaminess and jazzed up with those fab clothes and shoes.
The book on the other hand is exactly like 3 a.m. on a wasted Saturday night when you realise you’ve been drinking too much of the wrong drink, not enough to give you a high but bad enough to hit you with a hangover, not sickening enough to make you want to throw up but enough to turn you green. And the noises and bright lights…you just want to whisper “Turn it off” except you can’t say a word to save your life now. That’s how bad the drinking was. That’s ummm…how the book hit me.
Shortly into the book, I was grasping at straws, desperate to find the characters I had grown to love and identify with. Not only are they not there in the same fashion, the TV cast seems to be a tidied up collage of several people who drift through the book. I can’t find Charlotte’s sweetness/cloying behaviour in any one person. Samantha Jones’ scary/diva attitude is diluted in what appears to be just jaded women. Of Miranda there’s no trace and while Carrie shows up, it is hardly as the many nuanced-protagonist we all know.
Sorry Candace, you created something that went on to become a defining cult phenomenon for our generation. But your book was a little too potent. Not all of us can stand our vodka straight from the bottle. A little touch of fluff and pink and most of us enjoy the Cosmopolitan.