Friday, January 8, 2010

Too Much Money, by Dominick Dunne

Dominick Dunne died last year, and I am really going to miss him. The wonderful thing about Dominick Dunne books is that you know exactly what to expect when you buy one - high society gossip in the guise of a novel, with absolutely no redeeming literary or social qualities - and thus, his books never fail to meet your expectations.

In short, his books are guilty pleasures, about which I have no guilt ... why should I? Despite the very rich content, they have no calories.

Too Much Money is no exception, and it was the perfect way to finish out his writing - the book follows the same characters as People Like Us, only twenty years later, when one of them has finished his prison term and is attempting to re-enter New York society; one woman who was at the top of the social heap is embittered by her financial decline; there's an elderly society lady whose son appears to be making off with her artworks as her dementia progresses; and several other characters and plot points that are straight out of his Vanity Fair column.

Whenever I read Dunne's books, I wish they came with a Rosetta Stone that explained to me exactly who each character was supposed to be, because although many are familiar, I can't quite place them. I googled a couple of names and easily found out who the characters were based on - and then decided I just didn't care. It's not like I might ever mistakenly invite one of them for dinner. 

My biggest gripe about Too Much Money: It feels like it was written as a series of short stories, or maybe a soap opera, in the sense that we are continually reminded of plot points that even the slowest reader should not need reminding about. In order to keep up appearances, two relatives met for monthly lunches even though they hated each other and the lunches. Which is fine, but do we need to be reminded that "neither of them enjoyed it" every single time they have lunch? Same for explaining about halfway through the book that one character "has social aspirations." I'm sorry, but you just went on at great length about that for the last 100 pages ... I may not be in high society, but I can retain a concept for more than an hour, and really, it just doesn't take much longer than that to read one of these books.

But that's a minor gripe and the rest of the book was just the cotton candy I wanted: Sweet, easily consumed, blissfully lacking in substance.

23 books read, 27 more to go.


  1. sounds like fun :-) I've never read him but his books look like a good time. :-)

  2. 我是天山,等待一輪明月。.........................

  3. I just gave you an award- love your blog!


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