Thursday, May 29, 2008

Review of One Perfect Day

So, I finally finished this book.

I do admit that I went into it a little defensive. I mean, I'm about to get married, so reading a book that appears to be condemning the modern practices of weddings set me off a little bit.

Mr. T assured me that he thought the author's opinions were an unbiased look at the wedding industry, so I took the plunge.

It turns out, I totally disagreed with Mr. T on that one. I think she judged every person she came across and every wedding she attended. There was bias oozing out of every word. It didn't help that the author is British, so it really came across as a "you Americans" kind of book.

I don't deny that there are a lot of horrifying things about the wedding industry. I knew it before I read the book, but reading about her interviews with industry professionals and attendance at conferences where the bride is described as an "easy mark" or a "drunken sailor" was difficult. It made me angry, as I suspect it was intended to.

However, I also got the feeling that the author completely agreed with these professionals. That she thought American brides were pathetic, aimless creatures who were looking for anyone and anything to give their weddings (and therefore their lives) meaning and validation. I had a hard time with that. One of her main arguments seemed to be that the brides she interviewed had a hard time telling her what a wedding was for, exactly, and that the wedding "traditions" practiced in this country have dubious origins, like the "Apache prayer" that came straight from a Hollywood movie portrayal of Native Americans, or any number of "mongrel" ceremonies with elements of the "traditionalesque" that are "both overwrought and yet impoverished". (These are her words, seriously. Unbiased, not so much!)

In her epilogue she admitted that she'd gotten married while writing the book and had a small civil ceremony in a judge's chambers and a small no-frills get together at a family member's house. Which is fine, if that's what she wanted. But why condemn the choices of all her fellow brides in the process? She also admitted that she felt that since she was not a religious person, she couldn't get married in a church, but she felt disappointed that there were not more real traditions she could have used in her wedding.

Mr. T and I were talking about wedding "traditions" and cultures that have held onto their traditions in general. His opinion was that as a "white dude" in America, he just didn't have a lot of traditions in his culture, and that was sad. My counter-argument is that that's what I like about this country; that cultures who have clung to traditions have also perhaps clung to less-desirable traditions, like traditional class systems or gender roles. I differ with the author of the book in that I embrace creating new traditions that mean something more to me, rather than clinging to old ones that don't have relevance in my life.

Anyway, as a capper, I thought the language was overly formal, clunky, and complicated. So, it wasn't even an easy read. She should've taken some notes from The Tipping Point.

Next up: at home, I'm re-reading the last Harry Potter book. I'm enjoying it much more now that I'm not rushing through it to find out what happens! It's also just way too huge to lug around with me everywhere, so at work and on the train I'm reading In The Company of the Courtesan, which I borrowed from a friend. I haven't bought a book in months!

1 comment:

bilunabirotunda said...

If it comes to that, the American tradition *is* making your own place in the sun and making it up as you go along. But it can be hard sorting though the maze of pseudo- and passe traditions to find what's meaningful to you, new or old. It's good that you can be so clear on that. I often think about the Palace of Fine Arts in connection with this - it's a special place because it started as fake and became real. Who's to say you can't do the same thing with any new "non-traditional" idea.