I'm taking a second run at Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary.
I tried to read it several years ago, while still at university, but couldn't get past the main character's neurotic focus on herself, her daily list of how much she weighs (which doesn't make sense to me because I'm not British and have no idea what a stone means) and how much she has smoked. Her constant focus on being fat and not thin, on catching a man, are supposed to be funny, but they niggle at me.
This is hugely ironic because I am a huge fan of chick lit, which really does play on all the same elements. Really, the massive popularity of Fielding's Bridget Jones inspired entire branches of publishing houses dedicated to titles such as How To Meet Cute Boys (which I do own, courtesy of a friend).
In turn, Fielding was inspired by Jane Austen, whom I love. I could read Pride and Prejudice a thousand times and never sicken of it.
Similarly, I could and have watched the movie based on her book a thousand times. I know all the lines of dialogue.
So, yes, I'm taking another run at what Nick Hornby calls "a creation of comic genius" in his review.
(I have a rough time with Hornby. His characters are similarly satisfied with neurotically obsessing about themselves and their angst-ridden lots in life. In a way, I enjoy this because it proves men and women are not all that different, we all embrace an element of crazy. However, his characters also embrace an element of nastiness that can be disheartening. Like Fielding's, Hornby's books make absolutely awesome movies. Perhaps both should move on to screenwriting, although I'm sure there are whole soccer teams of people who would forcefully disagree with me on that.)
Anyway, on second read-through, as in first read-through, this snippet from Fielding's book makes me laugh out loud:
The rich, divorced-by-a-cruel-wife Mark -- quite tall -- was standing with his back to the room, scrutinizing the contents of the Alconburys' bookshelves: mainly leather-bound series of books about the Third Reich, which Geoffrey sends off for from Reader's Digest. It struck me as pretty ridiculous to be called Mr. Darcy and to stand on your own looking snooty at a party. It's like being called Heathcliff and insisting on spending the entire evening in the garden, shouting 'Cathy' and banging your head against a tree. (p. 13)
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