Back in the Trenches: Sweet Little Lies

Lauren Conrad has another bestseller. And I’m going to put a gun in my mouth.

Luckily, guest poster Lauren (not Conrad) takes one for the team and reviews it. As she would say “Go unpro!” and read her blog The Unprofessional Critic.

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It’s Saturday night, I’m at my favorite bookstore, and much like Lauren Conrad on a bad hair day (except dorky, bespectacled, and well, not a perfect size two), I’m praying I don’t get recognized.

See, I used to work at this very bookstore. And my hot punky former coworker, well, still works there. And I really didn’t want him ringing up my Lauren Conrad novel.

Last July, I guest-blogged my thoughts on LC’s first literary masterpiece, L.A. Candy. I promised ihatewheat that I’d follow through with the follow-up, Sweet Little Lies. . . only it wasn’t so easy this time. For one, it’s not my birthday or Christmas, so I actually have to spend money on this one. Money that will no doubt go toward Lauren’s manicures, when I can’t afford to get my own nails done.

And I run the risk of Hot Hipster Former Coworker looking at my purchase when he should be looking at my boobs.

I took a deep breath, stepped up to the register, the words “it’s for an ironic blog!” on my tongue and threatening to burst forth . . . and was rung up by a very polite individual who no doubt was still rolling his eyes in his mind.

All for y’all. And okay, I was morbidly curious too.

For me, L.A. Candy was the literary equivalent of a Marshmallow Peep, now available year-round as chicks, snowmen, or truly frightening Pepto Bismol-hued monster hearts. Sweet and fun to ingest, but largely forgettable and best in small doses. Also, as my college roommates and I discovered one night when we were bored, would probably blow up if we microwaved it long enough.

Forget Marshmallow Peeps: Sweet Little Lies was the literary equivalent of dog crap coated in granulated sugar. I used to eat granulated sugar straight up, but even when covered with grainy white goodness, a turd’s a turd. I’m not sure if Lauren’s still maintaining the “I wrote this all by myself because I’m a big girl” facade, but something went wonky here. I’m thinking her L.A. Candy editor lost the will to live somewhere along the way, or quite possibly burned the hell out after burning the midnight oil to make L.A. Candy into something readable, and this one Lauren actually DID write on her own.

For the love of God, someone get me a ghostwriting job because I could rock the shit out of the Lauren Conrad book franchise. Or at least make them readable enough so I don’t have to turn to Joyce Maynard every 30 pages to avoid developing a self-injury habit.

Lauren Conrad gone wild. It ain’t pretty, folks. If not a sugar-coated turd, Sweet Little Lies is like those really nasty chocolate bunnies that are actually hollow and give you a really bad stomachache. She is a moderately literate closetmonkey.

But she doesn’t know that:

I bet posing with the lollipop was her idea. Because no one ever (*cough* Fleetwood Mac *cough*) has equated sweetness with lying. Just like florals for spring, LC is downright groundbreaking.

A brief recap of L.A. Candy: When we last left our fair heroine, wannabe event planner turned reality star Jane Roberts, she had cheated on her alcoholic douche of a boytoy Jesse (aka “Flenser”) with Jesse’s friend and roommate, aspiring actor Braden (Chody). Except the paparazzi–did you know that paparazzo is the singular form of paparazzi? Kimiko taught me that!–somehow found out, and Jane ended up escaping to Cabo with her costar, the fake-titted and blonde-brained Meidi, I mean Madison. Meanwhile, Jane’s book-smart yet HAWT BFF/roomie/reluctant reality show participant Scarlett was left behind with airheaded PR girl Gaby (Spadrina).

Believe me, this plot is friggin’ War and Peace compared to that of Sweet Little Lies. So much that I’m not going to outline the whole thing for ya. Think of it as agony-sparing. Let’s just say that . . . stuff happens. Flenser gets drunk. Jane gets sanctimonious. Madison gets manipulative and is a big huge liar as well as a plastic surgery-addicted hobag (who doesn’t make crappy YouTube videos because there’s such a thing as defamation and Lauren didn’t want to get sued). Spadrina is a dumbass and I bet she’s got a wonky eye. Chody makes a brief appearance with his whorish lovah Willow. I think someone gets punched.

Really, the only interesting character in this cerebral abomination is Scarlett, who learns to love (aw) a cute cameraman named Liam who can match her classic lit for classic lit. If Lauren or her entourage knew anything, they’da made Scarlett the main character. She’s like the Lila of this franchise: dark-haired, sassy, wealthy and waaaaaaay the hell more intriguing than boring-ass Jane.

Also, can we talk about how freaking naive Jane is? The only way I could understand her utterly sheltered and pop culturally uninformed little mind is if they had made her a cavewoman with her own language like Nell (1994 movie references FTW!). It ain’t 2000, kids: unless you’ve lived in solitary confinement for the past decade, you have a basic understanding of how reality TV works. You’re miked most of the time. Stuff is staged. If there’s not an actual script, then conversations are guided. And there’s editing editing editing.

Jane, on the other hand, is SHOCKED to find that her coworker Hannah (aka Shitney) was (GASP) hired specifically for the show and (GASP) is pushing a producer-mandated agenda.

Oh, and Madison gets blackmailed. By an anonymous source who has pictures of her with GLASSESand BROWN HAIR. NOOOOOOO!

Madison WISHES she was as cool as this brunette bespectacled lady.

The overarching theme of Sweet Little Lies is this: Lauren really, really, really hates Heidi. But she can’t murder Heidi in her sleep because truTV doesn’t get as many viewers as MTV, and Lifetime Television for Women is an entirely different demographic. So instead, Lauren rips the Madison character a new unbleached a-hole. Even in 300 pages of characters less dimensional than an environmentally-unfriendly grocery bag, Madison stands out as heinously one-note. She’s not only a sociopath masquerading as a party girl heiress, but a homewrecking prostitute, depending on married older boyfriends for income. She sells photos of Jane to tabloids in exchange for coverage, and lies about it. The only time there’s an iota of sympathy for Madison is near the end when she wishes she had a real boyfriend. And that’s just screwed-up in itself.

Now for the shitshow you’ve all been waiting for: QUOTES!

· . . . she had about a million things she’d rather be doing than attending some lame launch party for Cut (pronounced “cute”), a new clothing line by the Japanese-American pop star Mika. Apparently Lauren is unaware that this guy exists, that he’s fabulous, and that HIS MUSIC HAS BEEN FEATURED ON HER FRIGGING SHOW.
· Madison, requesting a nail color at her manicure: That really deep red. I think it’s called Poison Apple. Because “Trashy Disgusting Bitchcakes” would be considered inflammatory in a court of law.
· Ooh, a Proust reference! If Scarlett didn’t feel so crappy, she would answer the professor’s questions about the madeleine . . . Scarlett loved the idea of sensory experiences invoking memories. Lauren name-checks Wuthering Heights as well, but that doesn’t count because it was in a Twilight book.
· The red-haired girl was what’s-her-name, Willow, who was not Braden’s girlfriend, exactly, but more of a friend with benefits. (The arrangement was likely his idea, not hers.) Because normal women don’t want that kind of arrangement EVER. We prefer codependency and cheating, Liz-and-Todd style, with the occasional kidnapping (but only if frozen pancakes are involved).
· “No thanks,” Madison replied. “I’m trying to lose a few pounds.” And you could stand to lose more than a few pounds, she thought, eyeing Jane’s figure. Body snark, body snark, who’s got the body snark?
· Airheaded Gaby: I’ve got a fifth sense about stuff like that. The follow up quote, It’s like I have ESPN or something! was cut, as was the part where Gaby fondles her boobs in the rain.
· Aaaand the bastardization of “best friend forever:” Jane was her BFFN [explained earlier to be Best Friend for Now], or more accurately, her BFFC (best friend for cameras)–not her real BFF. Madison didn’t have real BFFs any more than she had real BFs. This is about when I threw my third manuscript out the window, because if this is what’s selling I truly don’t have a prayer.

My point? Sweet Little Lies isn’t fun-bad. It’s BAD-bad. I started drinking about halfway through and still didn’t enjoy myself. You’d think that someone mired in the reality-show experience could put together a convincing fictionalized tell-all, complete with disguised salacious details.

Nope. Shitty chocolate bunnies, y’all.

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9 thoughts on “Back in the Trenches: Sweet Little Lies

  1. BartTempleton says:

    This was a good read. I was amused.

    Oh, by “this” I mean the salty write-up, not the source literature.

    Favorite lines:

    “Lauren name-checks Wuthering Heights as well, but that doesn’t count because it was in a Twilight book.”

    Because no one ever (*cough* Fleetwood Mac *cough*) has equated sweetness with lying.

    We prefer codependency and cheating, Liz-and-Todd style, with the occasional kidnapping (but only if frozen pancakes are involved).

    Body snark, body snark, who’s got the body snark?

  2. Rio says:

    Honestly, did anyone expect Lauren Conrad’s writing to be anything but a sugar-coated piece of poopy? Whenever I look at a page in one of her books, I can hear it being read in a contemptuous female monotone.

    • maybeimamazed02 says:

      Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting A Tale of Two Cities or even Caitlin. That said, in my L.A. Candy review I talked about how the book itself wasn’t terrible. Fluffy, yes, but kinda fun to read. And really, Lauren Conrad’s whole career has basically stemmed from her being pretty and nonoffensive.

      But this book made her last one look like Wuthering Heights. I really think that she either got a new editor/ghostwriter or really did write most of this herself. Because it’s really, really bad. Not awesomely bad. Bad bad.

  3. Jen S says:

    I never thought Lauren Conrad would turn out so dumb! Why, at this point she’d have to be a cartoon character to be taken seriously–hey, Family Guy’s on!

  4. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Well done for ploughing through this. I hate the title so much, it sounds like one of those dime a dozen forgettable chick-lit books with pink cover pages and titles in scrawly fonts.

    And yes, the fact that she’s somehow got a book deal while passionate, driven people flounder is just not fair!

    That said, all this awfulness that you describe does make me kind of want to flick through this just so I can laugh at it in person, you know?

  5. nikki says:

    “I run the risk of Hot Hipster Former Coworker looking at my purchase when he should be looking at my boobs.” This is why people love you.

    Also, that’s good writing! Not the book, I’m sure. Your sendup of it!

  6. Tanzie says:

    I though the book was pretty good read. You guys must really have high expectations or something. lol j/k! I though it was pretty good, just a fun beach read.

  7. Pumpkinbear says:

    Thank you, thank you for reading this book so that I don’t have to! Now, when I see it in the bookstore (before it gets overstocked and thrown down to Big Lots–actually it’s probably already there) and feel that sense of mild curiousity at actually laying eyes on the trainwreck inside, I, unlike you, can keep my dignity and not open that cover, because you did it for me.

    Way to take one for the team.

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