Sunday, March 21, 2010

With Friends Like These

Everybody from politicians to hookers (two callings easily confused) write books about their lives in order to dump on friends and enemies alike. Some times it's hard to tell which is which. I've read a number of political bios when "damning with faint praise" seems to be the subtext.

In the New York Times this morning Janet Maslin reviews a book by a woman named Pasternak who was ostensibly one of martha Stewart's best friends for a long time. As Maslin interprets the book, the Pasternak woman is a snotty, vengeful, megalomaniacal woman you should run away from. Fast.

Janet Maslin on The Best of Friends by Mariana Pasternak

"Ms. Pasternak, who stopped hearing from her beloved Martha around the time she gave courtroom testimony that would help send Ms. Stewart to prison, would have had to shed fewer crocodile tears over the loss of this treasured friendship if she had simply called her book “Martha, Watch Your Back.” Speaking of crocodile, Ms. Pasternak winds up expressing even more affection for a special red Hermès handbag (“How I loved that bag!”) than she does for the woman whose coattails she rode for more than 20 years.

"Ms. Pasternak’s readers are likely to have no interest whatsoever in the story of her Romanian girlhood, which was plagued by Communist persecution but rooted in snobbish distinctions between peasantry and intelligentsia. She immigrated to the United States in 1979 with one mere Hermès scarf of her grandmother’s but a very large sense of her own entitlement. By 1981 she had become engaged to a doctor and moved with him to Westport, where a predatory blond neighbor — Ms. Stewart — dropped in unexpectedly one day. The visit, Ms. Pasternak writes, was prompted by Ms. Stewart’s desire to check out the new unmarried man in town.


"This catty book is payback for the not-quite-free rides Ms. Pasternak took with her Westport pal. They traveled together frequently after both their marriages fell apart. Ms. Stewart seems to have summoned Ms. Pasternak when she could not find male company; Ms. Pasternak appears to have been a once-willing companion who in retrospect views these adventures resentfully. Making the ghastly writerly mistake of trying to speak Stewartese, she describes one New Year’s Eve on which the two dateless women found themselves reluctantly stuck in one of the numerous Stewart houses.


"Ms. Pasternak saves her nastiest swipes for sexual situations. And some of those swipes are vicious indeed. “I stood back and watched Martha stumble into sex as one might watch one’s child learn to walk, covering one’s eyes as the stairs loom into view,” she says. And Ms. Pasternak suggests that those stairs loomed into view as often as Ms. Stewart could find them. Ms. Pasternak is an eager tattletale and actually tells a story in which Ms. Stewart disparages her friend’s attempt at baking by saying, “You make cakes like I make love.”

"The mean-spiritedness of these jabs is heightened by Ms. Pasternak’s insistent claims of her own allure. “Next time,” she says she told poor, bedazzled Jeremy Irons. Ms. Pasternak explains how she wowed him at a party until the jealous Ms. Stewart yanked him away."

For the rest go here:

Ed here: This almost--almost--makes me feel sorry for Martha Stewart

1 comment:

Peter L. Winkler said...

Pasternak and Stewart deserved each other. They're well-matched.