NAL, $12.95, ISBN 0-451-20971-0
Contemporary Fiction, 2003
Suspense author Josephine Carr decides to follow where the money is and jumps on the chick-lit bandwagon. I give the author props for admitting this in her interview thoughtfully inserted at the end of the book. Unfortunately, The Dewey Decimal System of Love is a love story between a too-stupid nitwit and her, er, female genital, which from now on will be referred to as the kitty cat.
Alison Sheffield is a librarian that has never taken her kitty cat for a walk around the block in fifteen years. Don’t worry if you miss out on the fifteen-year thing, this matter will be brought up in every single chapter of the book, sometimes two or three times until I want to scream at the heroine Ally to take a broomstick and just be done with the suffering. She is in love with a music conductor from afar. Or so she decides. She, a forty-year old woman, doesn’t care that the conductor is married. She volunteers at the music library of the studio where the conductor is performing, hoping for some jolly infidelity fun to make her kitty cat purr again. When this conductor’s wife comes into the library to look up poisons for her novel in progress, Ally decides that this wife must be plotting to poison her husband and so Ally decides to spy on the wife all over town.
You know, I think Ms Carr must have, with this book, single-handedly destroyed the Librarians are Humans Too movement more than any nuclear warhead ever could.
There is a case of missing precious musical notes late in the story that is better handled than any of the “funny” stuff in this book. Obviously suspense is Ms Carr’s stronger niche. But to get there, I have to endure chapters and chapters of Ally agonizing over her celibate state. She’s not just desperate to get laid, make no mistake. She likes talking about the state of her neglected kitty cat way too much. I have no idea why anybody will find this topic interesting, but Ally can spend pages after pages justifying her fifteen-year celibacy, reliving her none-too-earth-shattering sexual interludes with her inept lovers in the past, all the while wishing to be a hot sexy mamma and acting all irrationally jealous over the wife of the conductor. When she’s not doing all that, she’s crying for no good reason and blaming the conductor for her mood swings or she is asking her colleagues about their sexual history while mocking them in her first person narrative. There’s self-absorbed, a given trait in chick-lit heroines, and there’s just one shoe away from eating the loony boot, and Ally is definitely losing it in this story. She’s nuts.
The romance – or what little of it – isn’t too inspiring. Let’s just say none of the men in this story are any good catch in the first place, and Ally settles for the least sociopathic of the lot. One could also say it is an obvious choice as this guy being Ally’s true love is actually an overused plot development in too many chick-lit novels. The only difference here is that he is pushing fifty while she is forty, which only tells people that morons come in all age and size and sex. Of course, such behavior looks way more undignified and even tragic when the heroine is forty. I mean, seriously now, sheesh.
The Dewey Decimal System of Love is too cynical and too focused on neurotic sexual behavior to pass itself off as a “romantic comedy”, unless you like stories of forty-something losers acting like teenagers. I don’t even know why they put this “Reader’s Guide” questions at the end of the book. Let’s see – do I condone Ally’s behavior because the conductor’s wife is “destructive”? No, I do not condone stupid plot contrivances designed to excuse the characters’ moronic impulses. Hmm, do I believe that Ally has a “Peter Pan” syndrome? Well yes, after a few hard hits in the head with a pan, yeah, maybe one will behave as imbecilic as that woman. Ally has a memorable way of speaking, did I get it while reading the book? Sorry, I don’t understand Moron.
File this waste of time and money somewhere under 155: When Morons with Mental Development Deficiency Attack.