In her debut novel, Wing uses Sun-Tzu's classic The Art of War and her own difficult transition from New York to L.A. to craft a brainy, satiric chick lit novel that forgoes a typical looking-for-love plot in favor of a happy-couple-against-the-world story. Tried and true New Yorker Stacey Knight is marrying the man of her dreams, businessman Jamie, who recently acquired a sinking Hollywood studio, necessitating their move to L.A. During the wedding reception, however, the antagonistic "Trio of Terror" studio heads Simon, Barb and Phil volley the first shot in a smooth but sinister dinner toast. As her enemies go all out, Stacy plays the victim for an irritating length of time before getting wise. The twists and turns, once they become clear, are entertaining, but Wing's characters aren't terribly likable, especially compared to some of the well-drawn minor characters. Though her concept, weaving in passages from Sun Tzu, is clever, the read slows to a crawl under the weight of difficult-to-follow conversations, a strange narrative style and frequent use of two-dollar words. (Dec.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Art of Social Warby Jodi Wing
New York career woman Stacey Knight marries James Makepeace just as she learns he's been offered the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to run a major Hollywood studio. There's one catch: they must relocate to Los Angeles. Will Stacey be lost in translation, or will her hard-earned New Yawk survival skills prove yet again, as Ol' Blue Eyes so often said, if you can… See more details below
New York career woman Stacey Knight marries James Makepeace just as she learns he's been offered the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to run a major Hollywood studio. There's one catch: they must relocate to Los Angeles. Will Stacey be lost in translation, or will her hard-earned New Yawk survival skills prove yet again, as Ol' Blue Eyes so often said, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere?
The unwitting newlyweds land in a Technicolor high-stakes Social War, pursued by ruthless power brokers in the film demimonde. What's a girl to do when the promise of a glittering blockbuster future descends rapidly into film noir despair? At once seduced and repelled by the rigid caste system and predatory aspect of Hollywood life, Stacey navigates a sea of confusing social obstacles and extremely bad behavior. Empowered by 2,500-year-old military strategist Sun Tzu's The Art of War, Stacey takes control of the War Game and learns that they must adapt to survive and attack if they are to thrive.
An effective, if not wholly original first novel, about the shark-infested waters of Hollywood—and that would be mostly lady sharks.
It's the end of 2001 and nice girl Stacey is preparing for Mayor Rudy Giuliani's staff farewell party. What begins as a celebratory evening ends with a bombshell: the conglomerate her fiancé works for has acquired a movie company and they're moving to Los Angeles. It shouldn't be too bad—a house in Beverly Hills, year-round sunshine, a happy husband—but for this independent New York girl, all she can imagine is the worst, and as luck would have it, that's what she gets. The main obstacle between Stacey and happiness is Julia and Simon Mallis, the old owners of Pacificus. Kept on as consultants until the end of the next year, they begin waging war at Jamey and Stacey's New York wedding (they rearrange the seating cards and take over as the entertainment). With Sun Tzu's The Art of War in hand, Simon intends to have it all—cash from the company's buyout and a hands-on role in its running. Unfortunately the battle moves to the home front and Stacey is the sole combatant. Wing skewers the absurdities of Hollywood life, and there is an abundance of raw material: charity benefits for odd diseases (helping excessively sweaty children is the cause du jour), daily color consultations (one wouldn't want to show up at the Polo Lounge in chartreuse when clearly it's a magenta day) and the oh-so-necessary study of Kabbalah. Stacey's new social circle of Hollywood wives live a sad, parasitic life; their sole source of accomplishment is in one-upping each other in designer goods and plastic surgery. When Jamey and Stacey discover their house has been bugged,Stacey hatches a plan that will finally rid them of the comically malevolent Simon and Julia.
Wing, no stranger to clunky phrasing (Stacey and her housekeeper sit "reasonably companionably"), nevertheless has good fun with the wackiness of Hollywood lives.
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The Art of Social War
The Beginning of the End
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . ." I played that familiar, bittersweet chestnut over in my mind while anxiety outweighed my exhaustion: one defining area of my life was to be settled shortly; another remained precariously up in the air. In my deconstructed office, amid half-emptied filing cabinets and half-packed boxes of memorabilia, I signed off on my very last media buy and contemplated the twinkling colored lights on the cherry trees outside my window, damp with drizzle and descending dusk. Holiday time here at Gracie Mansion. In ten days' time, the iconic Waterford crystal ball would drop down upon Times Square, signifying the official end of this crazy year. It would also signify the official end of the Giuliani mayoral tenure. My tenure, too; we would remain only to transition in the Bloomberg administration and tie up loose ends.
I rubbed my tired eyes as they traveled along the wall of framed photos and awards I still couldn't bring myself to take down these last days—visual testimony to eight years, two full terms of touchstones and memories in public ser¬vice to the City of New York. The tickertape parades, Marathons, July 4 Fireworks, Mets and Yankees Opening Day, and Thanksgiving balloons sparked such proud, joyful emotions. Remembrances of Ground Zero, firehouse and police memorials sparked profound sadness. The best of times and the worst: I had participated in both from a front row seat.
And it all came down to tonight. One last initiative, one last advertising campaign. My very last press event in this hallowedbuilding. Ever? It hardly seemed real.
I forced my thoughts to the promise of the evening's festivities and pushed aside a stack of spreadsheets in favor of my makeup bag and a brand-new copy of Emily Post's Wedding Planner, delivered today as a parting "gag" gift from the Teamsters Union, along with a bottle of Lillet sherry and elegant crystal goblets. I suppressed a smile, squeezed the last drops from a super-sized Visine bottle and began to layer concealer under my eyes, reciting bits of old-fashioned etiquette aloud to revive my sagging spirits. A quick knock, and my assistant Cathy poked her head around the door. "Leslie just called, Stacey. There was another subway scare and they had to evacuate at 79th Street." I grimaced; it was three months post-September 11, and the city still suffered daily emotional aftershocks: bomb scares, anthrax alerts, tangible civilian fear. "The Mayor—ex-Mayor," she caught herself, "is doing a quickie phoner for Channel 7, and—" I shot up by rote to run to my boss' side. "No, he said not to bother you. You should concentrate on tonight. The ads look amazing, by the way; definitely worth the all-night editing session," she added shyly, acknowledging my obviously useless cover-up attempts. I smiled wanly in return; I would miss Cathy the most.
Spirited voices neared the door: emotional reinforcements had arrived at last. In swept Chanel-scented hugs bearing rain-spackled Gloss garment bags, the entire Revlon product line and endless support and energy: my oldest and best friends, my soon-to-be bridesmaids, Nancy and Leslie. Without pausing they made themselves useful, expertly preparing airline-bottle cocktails on the paper and makeup-strewn desk. "Stace, get Nance to tell you about last night's disaster date," Leslie prodded as she handed me a vodka tonic and a tube of something shiny she was promoting, miming how to apply it. "The chubby blond accountant from our house-share in Quogue, remember? Hung like a bunny, sadly. That has a flawless finish, by the way."
"He seemed so promising," sighed Nancy, eyeing my Emily Post, and then my ring. "Oh well. It's a numbers game. Stacey found her corporate raider in Quogue two summers ago; we'll see what this season's batch brings. Meanwhile, I'll just scrounge from the Superhero Squad—what few hockey players, Navy Seals and firemen you two haven't, ahem, dated. If your father only knew of your bad-boy-in-uniform past, Stace . . ."
My smile widened (the finish really was flawless!), and I unzipped the damp plastic excitedly, unveiling cocktail dresses more fabulous than any I'd ever drooled over in Bendel's window. "My father the police captain and his entire 19th Precinct are actually quite 'pro-Jamey.' Now that they've completed a thorough background check, of course. Jamey meets Dad's 'play clean, work hard' Boy Scout criteria." I held the coveted hangers under my chin, modeling one at a time for general consideration, then frowned. "Why are there giant holes in the back of each dress?"
Nancy waved a roll of duct tape at me. "They're numbered European samples. I snuck them out of the fashion closet—they have to go back. We're shooting Monday," she warned, "so no spillage, Cinderella, or else your father-approved Boy Scout will pay a king's ransom for your evening-wear instead of the wedding."
"Or the new apartment," Leslie added helpfully, chewing an olive.
I wrinkled my nose. "Ah yes: life on a lowly City salary. Thank God for outlet stores and the kindness of high-ranking best pals. I'll behave." I held up the hangers again. "So, which do we like? I wanna project 'sophisticated, polished, eminently hire-able'—you know, like Emma Peel from The Avengers." With my chin, I reverently indicated my most favorite engagement gift, courtesy of my brilliant staff: DVD boxed sets of the iconic sixties' British television series, Emma on the front of each, outstanding in her cheekbones and sleek catsuits.
The snorting chorus didn't hesitate. "The leather one."
Of course. I negotiated the packing mess and tried on the selection behind a tower of crates. Mental note: no solid food 'til the wedding. "Speaking of superheroes, Nance, Rudy was thrilled with your coverage in Gloss." Gloss had the largest circulation in the country, and my maid of honor was the magazine's editor.
"He should be." She unspooled a loud and frighteningly large sheath of tape. "We put him on a par with Churchill and Kissinger."The Art of Social War. Copyright © by Jodi Wing. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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