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Pump Six and Other Stories
Paolo Bacigalupi

The Dallas Women's Guide to Gold-Digging with Pride: A Novel

The Dallas Women's Guide to Gold-Digging with Pride: A Novel - J.C. Conklin This is perhaps the most terrifying book I've read in a long time. It's like Upton Sinclair's [book: The Jungle], only with less sausage (sort of) and more hairspray and stilettos. It's like The Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo, and it's equally as horrifying and unable-to-look-awaying.

It's about women who marry for money (and little else), focusing on that particular brand of woman from Texas. It's told from an outside perspective, from a New Yorker, and it's hard to get a read on what the narrator/author really thinks about this strange new world she's inhabiting. (Yet another of those romance/chicklety novels where the author's bio reads startlingly similarly to the plot of the book, only with marginally less conspicuous consumption.)

It's all my worst fears about the current state of male-female relations in stark black-and-white. It's marriage as a commodity, which is vaguely icky but not my main objection per se, because that commodification of marriage is still glossed over with the pretense of affection, and this book is about the lengths to which women (and men) will go to in order to cling to that pretense for as long as the prenup tells them to.

Quite frankly, it's very much like a modern day Georgette Heyer-type novel/Regency romance, except without the comparative innocence and hope. The commodification of marriage is the same, but what irks me is that this is by choice for the Dallas women, compared to the rigid society of Regency England that, at least in fiction, offered very few alternatives. These women have the option of careers, or marrying for love instead of money, or or or. They're often in positions of power or come from money or are otherwise not forced into this bizarre mating dance/ritualistic torture/giant lie, and yet they choose to do so nonetheless.

So it's got a lot of the frivolity and amusement of those Regency romances, balancing the strictures of what these women "need" from a man in order to form an acceptable match and what these women "want" from a man, but it's also got the darker side that those romances rarely touch on - botched liposuction (okay, not so much of that in ye oldene dayes), excessive plastic surgery, drugging oneself to be able to tolerate the touch of one's chosen mate, researching husbands based solely on their stock profile rather than their personal profile (although that seems to reign supreme throughout all romances, here it involves actual breaking and entering and shady financial transactions), and sex toy Tupperware parties. (Can you imagine Jane Bennett's face? Or Mary's?)

I don't know. Maybe I'm more of a romantic than I like to admit. The whole thing is so completely soulless, and yet I cannot look away.