All of us except one girl, anyway, whose head was buried in a book every spare minute. She even cut out on some activities early to go back to the bus and read (which I sympathized with, but I liked the giant pandas too.) Nothing interested Vanessa** as much as her book.
The cover intrigued me. It was black; this was a grown-up book. Across the center stretched a raised diamond necklace with a huge emerald in the center. And across the bottom blazed one word in lurid red print: Lucky.
We struck up a conversation, like you do, and I eventually got a chance to hold the book in my own two hands (part of the reason for her mad reading spree was she was almost finished.)
Lucky by Jackie Collins changed my life.
I’d read grown-up books before, of course. I’d read some Stephen King. I’d read Gone With the Wind. I’d already discovered Barbara Michaels, thanks to my Mom. But I’d never read anything like this, full of sex and bad words and drugs and money and people who flew around the world on a whim. I devoured Lucky, then read Chances, the first book in the series, then went on to read basically everything Jackie had ever written.
It’s not fashionable to like poor Jackie. And to be fair, Jackie isn’t a great writer.
With creative fragments.
Her characters are fairly wooden and, had the books dealt a little more with, say, vampires and a little less with mobsters and heiresses, almost every one of them—especially Lucky Santangelo—would be derided as Mary Sues (I especially like the way Jackie always inserts herself and her late husband’s London nightclub into every book. From Lucky: “Tramp was run by an affable Englishman... Instinctively, [Lennie] knew Tramp was his kind of hang-out... [The Englishman] introduced them to his wife Jan, a striking ex-model...”) They’re obsessed with sex. They jump from conclusion to conclusion like Russian acrobats on speed. (I’m totally going to steal that line from myself at some point.) They’re whiny and selfish.
But they’re addictive as hell. And they’re fun.
Isn’t that the point of reading?
Someone, somewhere along the line—probably the same person who decided adults weren’t allowed to Trick or Treat anymore—insisted that we all look at every book as literature, and that it must broaden our minds, and that we should all look down on people who read Jackie’s book as idiots who don’t know what’s good for them. They’re the same people who insist romance novels are junk without having read them, that fantasy is easy to write because it’s “just making stuff up”, that Die Hard isn’t one of the greatest films ever made... I could go on and on.
Those people are about as much fun as blisters. And when life stops being fun, you might as well put on a pair of Depends and sit around all day dreaming of mean codicils to put in your will. (Okay, that actually is kind of fun. The will part, not the incontinence. But you get my point.)
Who cares if Jackie’s books are the mental equivalent of Kool-Aid? So what? Does everything we do always have to be sensible and enlightening, for the greater good of mankind and the planet? What’s wrong with having fun when you read?***
I don’t put fake covers on my books. On any of them. I let everyone see what I’m reading.
Say it loud. I read crap and I’m proud.
*Except Danielle Steel. Sorry, but she is still crap. And Nicholas Sparks.
**I call her Vanessa here, because that was her name.
***I should point out that my own books are emphatically not crap. Fun, hopefully, but not crap.