Tuesday, May 15, 2018

9. The Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

One more decent find from my hospital bookstore discovery.  I am really glad I read this.  At parts, it dragged a bit for me but overall was really entertaining and a great historical read.  The impact of this book has faded somewhat today, but it broke all records when it came out and still pretty high up there on the best seller list with 31 million copies.  I imagine that in the 60s if you were on the subway, everybody would be reading a copy.  People today act like Mad Men was some deep revelatory exploration into show business and advertising in the early 60s but they were all talking about the same shit back then and Valley of the Dolls can really be considered the ur-text for that period.  It is at once commenting on the time but also very much of it.

Sorry I'm rambling because most info about the book, its history, impact and analysis are very much available online.  It's the story of three young women coming to New York and becoming stars.  The dolls are what they name the various pills they all get hooked on to one degree or another.  They are a central element, but more like a background to the stronger narrative about their love lives, their struggles to succeed and ultimately how shitty men are.  Punches are not pulled for women either but wow this book is cynical.  I think ultimately what made me appreciate this book was how dark and hard it was.  Even the main love narrative with the character who is the most solid and makes it to the end mostly unscathed is slowly revealed to be a complete disaster and the man a monster.

I'm psyched for the movie now.