Candace Bushnell created a sensation with her first book, Sex and the City, spawning an HBO series that has become a phenomenon. With her sharp insight and uncensored observations of the mating rituals of the Manhattan elite, Bushnell has become a celebrity in her own right—on television, on the newsstands, and in bookstores across the globe.
In a new collection of stories, 4 Blondes, the romantic intrigues, betrayals, victories, and insecurities of four modern women are told with Bushnell's keen wit and sardonic eye. A beautiful B-list model in "Nice N'Easy" attaches herself yearly to the man with the largest summer house in the Hamptons, but she soon realizes that snagging a rich man and living in a fancy beach house won't necessarily bring her happiness. In "Highlights (for Adults)," a high-powered magazine columnist doesn't feel that she needs a man; an examination of her deteriorating marriage shows that her literary journalist husband could never live up to her sexual or emotional expectations. Too many expectations overwhelm Princess Cecilia in "Platinum"; her marriage to "the world's most eligible bachelor" leads to a descent into paranoia that she chronicles in her journal. And in "Single Process," an aging "It girl" worries that she is getting too old to meet a local eligible bachelor, so she travels to London in search of a husband, where she makes pithy observations about the differences between British and American men.
Once again, Bushnell returns to the land of the pretty and the powerful, breaking down bedroom doors with her wry humor and frank portrayals of love and lust among the "It people."
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Edition description:||1ST SIGNET|
|Product dimensions:||6.54(w) x 4.20(h) x 1.05(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Janey Wilcox spent every summer for the last ten years in the Hamptons, and she'd never once rented a house or paid for anything, save for an occasional Jitney ticket. In the early nineties, Janey was enough of a model to become a sort of lukewarm celebrity, and the lukewarm celebrity got her a part ("thinking man's sex symbol") in one of those action movies. She never acted again, but her lukewarm celebrity was established and she figured out pretty quickly that it could get her things and keep on getting them, as long as she maintained her standards.
So every year around May, Janey went through the process of choosing a house for the summer. Or rather, choosing a man with a house for the summer. Janey had no money, but she'd found that was irrelevant as long as she had rich friends and could get rich men. The secret to getting rich men, which so many women never figured out, was that getting them was easy, as long as you didn't have any illusions about marrying them. There was no rich man in New York who would turn down regular blow jobs and entertaining company with no strings attached. Not that you'd want to marry any of these guys anyway. Every rich guy she'd been with had turned out to be weird—a freak or a pervert—so by the time Labor Day came around, she was usually pretty relieved to be able to end the relationship.
In exchange, Janey got a great house and, usually, the man's car to drive around. She liked sports cars the best, but if they were too sporty, like a Ferarri or a Porsche, that wasn't so good because the man usually had a fixation on his car and wouldn't let anyone drive it, especially a woman.
The guy she had been with last summer, Peter, was like that. Peter had golden-blond hair that he wore in a crew cut, and he was a famous entertainment lawyer, but he had a body that could rival any underwear model's. They were fixed up on a blind date, even though they'd actually met more than a dozen times at parties over the years, and he asked her to meet him at his town house in the West Village because he was too busy during the day to decide on a restaurant. After she rang the buzzer, he left her waiting on the street for fifteen minutes. She didn't mind, because the friend who fixed them up, a socialite type who had gone to college with Peter, kept emphasizing what a great old house he had on Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton. After dinner, they went back to his town house, ostensibly because he had to walk his dog, Gumdrop, and when they were in the kitchen, she spotted a photograph of him, in his bathing suit on the beach, tacked to the refrigerator door. He had stomach muscles that looked like the underside of a turtle. She decided to have sex with him that night.
This was the Wednesday before Memorial Day, and the next morning, while he was noisily making cappuccino, he asked her if she wanted to come out to his house for the weekend. She had known he was going to ask her, even though the sex was among the worst she'd had in years (there was some awkward kissing, then he sat on the edge of the bed, rubbing himself until he was hard enough to put on a condom, and then he stuck it in), but she was grateful that he had asked her so quickly.
"You're a smart girl, you know," he said, pouring cappuccino into two enameled cups. He was wearing white French boxer shorts with buttons in the front.
"I know," she said.
"No, I mean it," he said. "Having sex with me last night."
"Much better to get it out of the way."
"Women don't understand that guys like me don't have time to chase them." He finished his cappuccino and carefully washed out the cup. "It's a fucking bore," he said. "You should do all of your friends a favor and tell them to quit playing those stupid girl games. If a girl doesn't put out by the second or third date, you know what I do?"
"No," Janey said.
He pointed his finger at her. "I never call her again. Fuck her."
"No. That's exactly what you don't do. Fuck her," Janey said.
He laughed. He came up to her and squeezed one of her breasts. "If everything goes well this weekend, maybe we'll spend the whole summer together. Know what I mean?" he said. He was still squeezing her breast.
"Ow," Janey said.
"Breast implants, huh?" he said. "I like 'em. They should make all women get them. All women should look like you. I'll call you."
Still, when he hadn't called by noon on Friday, she began to have doubts. Maybe she'd read him wrong. Maybe he was totally full of shit. It was unlikely, though—they knew too many people in common. But how well did anybody really know anyone else in New York? She called up Lynelle, the socialite who had fixed them up. "Oh, I'm so glad you guys hit it off," Lynelle said.
"But he hasn't called. It's twelve-thirty," Janey said.
"He'll call. He's just a little ... strange."
"He's a great guy. We have this joke that if I weren't married to Richard, we'd be married. He calls me his non-future-ex-wife. Isn't that hysterical?"
"Hysterical," Janey said.
"Don't worry. You're just his type," Lynelle said. "Peter just has his own way of doing things."
At one-thirty, Janey called Peter's office. He was in a meeting. She called twice more, and at two-thirty, his secretary said he'd left for the day. She called the town house several times. His machine kept picking up. Finally, he called her at three-thirty. "Little anxious?" he asked. "You called eleven times. According to my caller ID."
They drove out to the Hamptons in his new Porsche Turbo. Gumdrop, a Bichon Frise with blue bows in his topknot, had to sit on her lap, and kept trying to lick her face. All the way out, Peter kept making his hand into a gun shape, pretending to shoot at the other motorists. He called everyone "a fucking Polack." Janey tried to pretend that she thought it was funny.
In Southampton, they stopped for gas at the Hess station. That was a good sign. Janey always loved that gas station, with the attendants in their civilized white and green uniforms—it really made you Feel like you were finally out of the city. There was a line of cars. Peter got out of the car and went to the bathroom, leaving the engine running. After a few minutes, the people behind her started honking. She slid into the driver's seat just as Peter came running out of the bathroom, waving his arms and screaming, "You fucking Polack, don't touch my car!"
"Huh?" she said, looking around in confusion.
He yanked open the car door. "Nobody drives my fucking car but me. Got that? Nobody touches my fucking car but me. It's my fucking car."
Janey slid gracefully out of the car. She was wearing tight jeans and high-heeled sandals that made her an inch taller than he was, and her long, nearly white, blond hair hung straight down over a man's white button-down shirt. Her hair was one of her most prized possessions: It was the kind of hair that made people look twice. She lifted her sunglasses, aware that everyone around them was now staring, recognizing her as Janey Wilcox, the model, and probably beginning to recognize Peter as well. "Listen, Buster," she said into his face. "Put a lid on it. Unless you want to see this little incident in the papers on Monday morning."
"Hey, where are you going?" he asked.
"Where do you think?" she said.
"Sorry about that," Peter said after she got back in the car. He rubbed her leg. "I've got a bad temper, baby. I explode. I can't help it. You should know that about me. It's probably because my mother beat me when I was a kid."
"Don't worry about it," Janey said. She adjusted her sunglasses.
Peter roared out of the gas station. "You are so hot, baby. So hot. You should have seen all those other men looking at you."
"Men always look at me," Janey said.
"This is going to be a great summer," Peter said.
Peter's house was everything Lynelle had promised. It was a converted farmhouse on three acres of manicured lawn, with six bedrooms and a decorator-perfect interior. As soon as they arrived, Peter got on his cell phone and started screaming at the gardener about his apple trees. Janey ignored him. She took off her clothes and walked naked out to the pool. She knew he was watching her through the sliding glass doors. When she got out of the water, he stuck his head out. "Hey baby, is the heat turned on in the pool? If it isn't, I'll call the guy and scream at him."
"It's on," she said. "I think we should figure out what parties we want to go to this weekend." She took out her own cell phone and, still naked, settled into a cushiony deck chair and started dialing.
In mid-May of the summer Janey was to turn thirty-one (her birthday was June first, and she always told everyone she was a "summer baby"), she went to the nightclub Moomba three times in one week. The first night was a party for the rap artist Toilet Paper. She stood in the middle of the room with one hip pushed out, letting photographers take her picture, then someone escorted her to a table in the corner. Joel Webb, the art collector, was there. Janey thought he was cute, even though everyone said he'd had a nose job and cheek implants and liposuction and wore lifts in his shoes because he was only five foot four. But that wasn't the problem. It was his house. For the past three years, he'd been building a big house in East Hampton; in the meantime, he'd been renting what Janey considered a shack—a rundown three-bedroom cottage.
"I need a girlfriend. Fix me up with one of your gorgeous friends, huh?" he said.
"How's your house coming?" Janey said.
"The contractors promised it would be done by July fourth. Come on," he said, "I know you can think of someone to fix me up with."
"I thought you had a girlfriend," Janey said.
"Only by default. We break up during the year, but by the time summer comes, I get so lonely I take her back."
Two nights later, Janey showed up at Moomba with Alan Mundy, whom everyone was calling the hottest comic in Hollywood. She'd met Alan years ago, when she was doing that film in Hollywood—he was a nobody then and had a tiny part in the movie, playing a lovesick busboy. They sort of became friends and sort of stayed in touch, talking on the phone about once a year, but Janey now told everyone he was a great friend of hers. Her booker at her modeling agency told her Alan was coming into New York on the sly, so Janie called his publicist and he called her right back. He'd just broken up with his girlfriend and was probably lonely. "Janey, Janey," he said. "I want to see all the hot places. Tear up the town."
"As long as we don't have to patch it back together when you're done," she said.
"God, I've missed you, Janey," he said.
He picked her up in a Rolls Royce limousine. His hair had been dyed red for his last movie role, and he had an inch of black roots. "Whatcha doing now, kid?" he asked. "Still acting?"
"I've been acting every day of my life," Janey said.
Inside the club, Alan drank three martinis in a row. Janey sat close to him and whispered in his ear and giggled a lot. She had no real interest in Alan, who in actuality was the kind of geeky guy who would work at a car wash, which was exactly what he used to do in between jobs before he became famous. But nobody else had to know that. It raised her status enormously to be seen with Alan, especially if it looked like they could potentially be an item.
Alan was drunk, sticking the plastic swords from his martinis into his frizzy hair. "What do you want, Janey?" he asked. "What do you want out of life?"
"I want to have a good summer," Janey said.
She got up to go to the bathroom. She passed Redmon Richardly, the bad-boy southern writer. "Janey, Janey," he said. "I'm soooo glad to see you."
"Really?" Janey said. "You were never glad to see me before."
"I'm always glad to see you. You're one of my good friends," Redmon said. There was another man at the table. Short brown hair. Tanned. Slim. Too handsome. Just the way Janey liked them. "See? I always said Janey was a smart model," Redmon said to the man.
The man smiled. "Smart and a model. What could be better?"
"Dumb and a model. The way most men like them," Janey said. She smiled back, aware of the whiteness of her teeth.
"Zack Manners. Janey Wilcox," Redmon said. "Zack just arrived from England. He's looking for a house in the Hamptons. Maybe you can help him find one."
"Only if I get to live in it," Janey said.
"Interesting proposition," Zack said.
Janey went upstairs to the bathroom. Her heart was thumping. Zack Manners was the huge English record producer. She stood in line for the bathroom. Redmon Richardly came up behind her. "I want him," Janey said.
"Who? Zack?" He laughed. "You and a million other women all over the world."
"I don't care," Janey said. "I want him. And he's looking for a house in the Hamptons."
"Well ... you ... can't ... have ... him," Redmon said.
"Why not?" Janey stamped her foot.
Redmon put his arms around her like he was going to kiss her. He could do things like that and get away with it. "Come home with me tonight."
"Because it'd be fun."
"I'm not interested in fun."
"Ditch that geek you're with and come home with me. What are you doing with a geek like that, anyway? I don't care if he's famous. He's still a geek."
"Yeah, well, being with a geek like that makes men like you more interested in me."
"Oh, come on."
"I want to have a good summer," Janey said. "With Zack."
Janey and Alan left half an hour later, after Alan accidentally spilled two martinis. On their way out, they passed Redmon's table. Janey casually slipped her hand into the back pocket of Alan's jeans. Then she looked over her shoulder at Zack.
"Call me later," Redmon said loudly...
—Reprinted from 4 Blondes by Candace Bushnell by permission of Signet, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 2002, Candace Bushnell. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
What People are Saying About This
"Bushnell writes with the same acerbic ruthlessness that has made Sex and the City such a touchstone of our times." —The New York Times
“Bushnell has her milieu down cold, and writes with the peculiarly New York cynicism of a woman who has attended one too many fragrance launches.” —New York Times Book Review
“Enough sharp humor and canny, insightful portraits to easily fill Sex and the City’s Manolo Blahnik shoes.” —USA Today
“A collection of short stories about Manhattanites whose escapades will make your own life seem tame. . . . Pour yourself a cocktail and dig in.” —Playboy
“Candace Bushnell is back in fine, blunt form. . . . Fans will get what they love: the literary dirt on characters who are so manically self-absorbed they’re appealing. . . . What makes [Four Blondes] good is that it’s all about the messy clash of bad ideas, greedy expectations, and power.” —Boston Globe
“In a world of fiction currently populated by earnest, neurotic female characters who hold down responsible jobs, it’s a relief to read about lives that are so much more troubled, glamorous and unapologetically shallow than our own.” —US Weekly
“Bushnell’s keen eye for detail is a treat, and her knack for identifying New York-specific idiosyncrasies is a riot.” —Chicago Tribune
“Jacqueline Susann meets Edith Wharton, a novel of manners with no manners, pop literature that smartly captures the mores and obsessions of our times and does so with wit, insight and a lot of talk about sex. . . . Bushnell’s satire is on target and unstrained . . . [she] has a good eye for details, a great ear for dialogue and an excellent mind for dirty thoughts.” —Seattle Times
“[Four Blondes] is so trashy, crude and vulgar that you know you should stop, but you just can’t. . . . Bushnell has a scathing, unerring eye for the details and humiliations of modern urban life.” —Cleveland Plain-Dealer
“[Four Blondes] is hip and funny, with zany New York trends, romantic men, silly names, and sage advice.” —Chicago Sun-Times