Saturday, June 23, 2018

Review - The Tallest Doll in New York City

The Tallest Doll in New York City
by Maria Dahvana Headley
Date: 2014
Reading level: A
Book type: short story
Pages: 8
Format: e-book

Nebula Award-nominated author Maria Dahvana Headley has always loved Damon Runyon's stylized faux-reporting on New York City. This is her version of a Runyon tale—this one dealing with the architectural guys and dolls of New York City—and a valentine to all the beautiful buildings she knows.

It's Valentine's Day, 1938, and the Chrysler Building's tired of waiting on the corner of Forty-second and Lex for a certain edifice to notice her. Here's the story of what might happen if two of New York's greatest creations met on a day built for romance.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

What the...?!

This was totally surreal and, for me, kind of stupid. I'm guessing the author was trying to imitate a particular style, but it really didn't work for me. I found the narrator (a human waiter in the Cloud Club in the Chrysler Building) to be insipid and underdeveloped. The language--though probably historically accurate--was also irritating; the objectification of women by continually calling them "dolls" throughout the story grated on my nerves after a while. (Would the average person really have used that word that much, or was this written too much from the perspective of a modern author trying desperately to evoke a sense of time and place?) The writing style itself also bothered me. It was all in present tense, even when recounting past events; it made for some confusing bits.

I guess the idea of a couple of buildings who've stared at each other for years finally pulling themselves off their foundations to go have sex in the ocean on Valentine's Day might be kind of a cute idea... but only if you're really good at suspending disbelief. This was just too far out there for me, and I didn't really care about what was happening... to either the buildings or the human characters within.

At least this story is extremely short.

Quotable moment:

We joke about working in the body of the best broad in New York City, but no one on the waitstaff ever thinks that the Chrysler might have a will of her own. She’s beautiful, what with her multistory crown, her skin pale blue in daylight and rose-colored with city lights at night. Her gown’s printed with arcs and swoops, and beaded with tiny drops of General Electric.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing & Editing: 2/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 ladybugs

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