While the world wonders whether there was some way the tragic death of Whitney Houston could have been prevented, and there seems to be some dispute over whether Demi Moore is in rehab at Cirque Lodge or somewhere else, we consumers and producers of the fame machine are forced to stop and think a bit. How much of celebrities’ troubles are our fault? Or would they have the same troubles if we weren’t reading and writing about them? And at the same time, we’re still wondering: How can we read and write more about these celebrities and their troubles?
Well, we can either get all depressed by all this soul-searching, or we can do what I always do: Escape into a book about someone else’s soul searching. The new novel Spin, by Canadian author Catherine McKenzie, is kind of perfect for this occasion. It starts off all lighthearted and chick-lit: Kate Sandford lands an interview for her dream job writing at a music magazine, but she goes out partying to celebrate her 30th birthday the night before and shows up at the interview drunk. And yeah, doesn’t get the job. But weeks later, the editor of the magazine offers a second chance … with a catch. They want Kate to use her visible alcohol problem in order to get into the extremely secluded rehab facility where A-list starlet Amber Sheppard has just been admitted. If she befriends Amber and writes an expose for the magazine’s sister gossip rag, then she might also land her dream job after all. Of course, there are complications with this plan, ones Kate doesn’t even think of until she’s committed to 30 days in the Cloudspin Oasis.
Of course, we, the readers, totally realize rehab is a very good idea for Kate, assignment or no. We also can see the next pitfall a mile away: She actually becomes friends with Amber. But it’s easy enough to put aside the obvious and enjoy the ride of Kate’s funny inner dialogue and more serious moral dilemma. Which, it’s kind of easy to imagine taking that assignment on, however despicable that seems — isn’t that what we’re doing every time we pick up a Star or Us Weekly? (The only real problem with Kate as a character is her terribly bland taste in music. I seriously would like to go through and replace each of the songs references with better ones and then reread the story, because then I’d identify with her a little more.)
Spin doesn’t really come to a conclusion about how far is too far when it comes to celebrity gossip; Kate’s own journey becomes more important than all that. But we’re rather happy that this novel doesn’t sit in judgment of our livelihood, actually. It just gives us a tiny bit of a new perspective in a fun, engrossing package. And yes, this would make a perfect rom-com, Hollywood, provided that you don’t make it too cutesy.