Tan Lines by J. J. Salem

Title: Tan Lines
Author: J. J. Salem
Hardcover: 306 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publish Date: July 8, 2008
ISBN: 9780312374150

Normally, I like to start my reviews with a quote from the book. However, I think you’ll enjoy this video of Tan Lines’ first line the good people of St. Martins press has posted over at YouTube.

So with a first line like that, you’d think this book would definitely be a fun and steamy summer read, right?

Well, it’s definitely steamy. If you took all the sex out of it, Tan Lineswould probably be whittled down from the 306 pages to 220. AND, if you took out the drinking and doping, you’d be further reduced to about 190 pages (it would have been even less, but some of the drinking and doping is mixed in with the sex). Then, if you took out all the who’s wearing what designers clothes, shoes and undies… Undies, for cry-yi-yi! One line says Kellyanne stripped down to her La Perlas, I thought it was some new slang for being naked. Turns out La Perla is designer underwear… So taking out all fashion apparel text, it’s down to about 165 pages. Now, take out the name dropping, the “Kelly Ripa was at the table next to them” and “Mathew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker was leaving as they were going in”, and the book would be cut down to about 158 pages.

With almost half of the original text cut, what is left? One hell of a story, to be honest. It could almost be a joke, or a Reality TV series: What happens when you take Hillary Clinton, Courtney Love, and Elizabeth Hasselbeck to the Hamptons to share the same house for the summer? That is kinda-sorta the premise of Tan Lines.

Of course that’s not enough to make a book, J. J. Salem (who is a guy by-the-by) adds Liza’s stalker, Kellyanne’s cruelly possessive sugar daddy, a closet party-guy neocon who’s hanging from the chandeliers on coked out benders with Billie while being engaged to a frosty-queen old money deb, Liza’s shiftless leach of a fireman husband who Liza believes is cheating (what’s really going on with his is a complete blindside), and several other characters hear and there that wouldn’t be a stretch to see killing one, or all, of the three.

Revealing that one, or all, of the characters will die is not a spoiler, by the way, because the prologue says: “…the way those girls had been in the beginning, before everything had gone so wrong.” and that the condo owner is remodelling because “she could not look at those ghastly bloodstains one more day.

Reviewing Tan Lines, for me, is an exercise in schitzoprhenic writing. On the one hand, I could seriously done without all the sex. Really. I learned things reading this book I had never heard of before, and I scored 36.6% on the purity test! Booty bumps and bleached bungholes were completely new concepts to me. After a while, Tan Lines’ sexual content had the same effect as the nude tribesmen in the National Geographic specials -after 20 minutes, you stop seeing their nakedness. Also, I really could have lived without all the drinking and drugs. AND I don’t care that much about fashion and designers.

But, on the other hand, I thought Salem’s writing is quite effective, his plot development compelling, and the twists and turns he throws in completely disarming. He is an exceptional storyteller, and his characters are very human -even if most are the dregs of society.

The ending was quite a surprise. For one, it was beautifully happy and fair. Second, it was inevitable. and Third, it was all of a sudden and shocking… and I just didn’t get why it couldn’t have been the rock star! It sucks, and it wasn’t fair.

There are some really wonderfully sweet scenes, as well. Liza’s blossoming relationship with her arch nemesis and Kellyanne’s realization that she’s more valuable than being some nasty old man’s sperm receptacle. When it comes to Billie, unfortunately the only epiphanies had are those of the people around her deciding she’s a lost cause and they’re better off exorcising her from their lives.

I would definitely say this book is an X rated book, but not erotica. It’s graphic and explicit, full of foul language, alcohol, and drugs… even forced sex on a couple occasions. It is NOT the book for the Christian Women’s book club. I probably wouldn’t even recommend Tan Lines to me. But I would have to say it’s a great read, very compelling, and sticks with you for a while… for better or worse.

Overall, I’m giving Tan Lines 4/5 stars.

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How Weird Is That?

I am a big fan of words.  I love to read,  I love to write, and I love discovering where words and phrases come from how different people in different places use different words to describe the same thing.

This post was inspired by a question in my Friday Fill-In.  If I were a condiment, what would I be… I knew a lot of people would say ketchup or salt or pepper, so I reached back inside my brain to think of the weirdest, most off-the-wall thing I could answer and got “cheese doodle”.  What’s cheese doodle?  It’s that canned cheese people buy to spray on their crackers.

Cheese Doodle

Now, I’m probably the only person to call it “cheese doodle”.  I googled “cheese doodle” and the majority of people seem to think this Cheesy Poof is a “cheese doodle”.   But I call that a cheesy poof, as in “Eric, you want some CHEESY POOFS?

Heck yeah, I want some Cheesy Poofs!

But that got me thinking, what other words to I use to call things that are completely weird and different?

I’m very unusual were I live in that I call this soda soda. Most people around here call it “coke” or “pop”. Only 13% of the people in Indiana call it “soda. Click here to see what people call it where you live (US).

Also, I have several terms that were part of my family-language such as:
cat shit cat shit, and must turd which I always put on my weener weener, and for breakfast I like to eat dog nuts dog nuts.

boney Sometimes I like to eat baloney, or boney for short, and sometimes I eat buh-log-nah, but all three taste the same. And if I really want to get fancy, I eat baloney salad. Marsh deli calls it “Sandwich Spread”.

Some oddities of language I picked up from friends, such as Ponda-gross-a Pondo and Taco Hell Gas gets outside your buns.

 

Wally WorldMoving to a small town, what I once called “Wal-mart”, has suddenly become THE Wal-mart, like it is the pinnacle of the retail world. Others around here call it Wally World, as if shopping there is a day of fun and adventure. I’m sorry, but navigating a wobbly cart through too-narrow aisles to pick over picked-over stuff, getting my heal ran over by some unruly brat whose mom can only say one phrase, “No! Stop that!” and getting stuck behind some 105 year old with a posture that causes question marks to turn green with envy is not my idea of FUN! and ADVENTURE! God forbid you go in on the 3rd of the month! That’s when the crazy money comes from the Social Security and the group homes and the looney bin have their field trips to Wally World. Oh! what FUN! what ADVENTURE! those days are.

Other quirks of language people often chuckle about are:
If something honks me off, I’ll say, “That just burns my biscuits!” I’m forever “lawning my mow”, cooking soup in a bucket , and my computer is on my table computer desk (not my actual computer table) My kids get an extra chuckle out of my “bucket” and “table” mistakes.

 

Being a Hoosier and being naturally weird anyway, there’s lots more bizarre phraseology in my repertoire, but it’s late and I’m tired. I think I’ll hit the hay, but before I do I’m gonna go get a glass of Kool-Aid.

 
By the way, this is my Kool-Aid: The Kool-Aid Mom's a phony!