Reality Nirvana Tuttle (daughter of a hippy, which she finds deeply embarrassing), a woman with ‘seventy-two different fashion personalities’, is the ‘doorwhore’ of the nightclub Less Is More in New York City. Her job involves deciding which “nobodies” are allowed in, on the basis of how “fabulous” they are. She wields great power in the club scene, her compliments and criticisms acting as law, until one night she fails to recognise Jackie O in a drab outfit and is fired for her mistake.
This is a absolute disaster for Reality (or ‘Really’, as her friends call her), who is replaced by her unstylish nemesis, Ricci, a woman that lets just anyone into the club. Reality also needs the money to pay for her tiny flat and so that she can collect an even wider range of clothes. She prefers frocks to people, which is not surprising as all her “friends” are as mean as she is. Reality is of course desperate for attention as well, wanting to one day become a somebody, and has met the gossip columnist for Frenzee Magazine, Hugo Falk, so all she needs to do now is something fabulous enough for him to write about. Eventually she hits upon the solution to all her problems – she and her neighbour Freddie will open their own club in their apartments!
This novel was originally published in 1989 and I would describe it as quirky, satirical proto-chick-lit. It has dated slightly – mostly in terms of language like the slang, but I doubt the fashion club scene has changed at all. The characters and their adventures are silly and superficial, but likeable and funny. Reality genuinely loves her frocks, believing that every dress she owns has a name, a personality and a voice. She can’t stand the pain she can feel emanating from them when they are abused by other people, she has to buy them so she can look after them properly. The other characters also seem pretty horrible at first, but when they show how much they really love Reality, they seem a lot more sympathetic.
This novel is a fast and easy read that I would recommend this book to fans of fashion, satire, quirky stories, or Sex and the City – I remember one Amazon reviewer describing Reality as being like a young Carrie, before she got the bizarrely high-paid job as a newspaper columnist, would be. I think the only downside is that it is so short – I want to find out what happens to these characters next!