May 19 2013
Dear Ms. Chase:
Tangled is narrated Drew, a horrible person. He says horrible things. Thinks horrible things. Half the time he comes off slut shaming and half the time he comes off misogynistic. Yet, every time that I think he’s gone beyond the pale, I’m drawn back in. At the end of the book I’m convinced that Drew walks around looking down at all the single players thinking that they are fools because they aren’t settled down and that they’ll never have a wife as awesome as his wife, Kate Brooks.
Kate and Drew have a meet cute at a bar. He’d like to take her home with him for the night but she turns him down. We find out that she does so because she recognizes he is one of the partners in the hedge fund firm she is just hired on to join. Drew finds out this news when he meets her.
Drew’s an asshole because he’s never had to be nice. He’s always been good looking, charming, and extremely wealthy. Drew’s assholish-ness is over the top at times and really there are lines that could have been edited out that would have a) reduced his unlikeability factor by 10 and b) not changed his overall character at all.
For example, Drew tries to praise Kate for not being mannish and thinks to himself “Hilary Clinton is mannish.” Ugh, no. He refers to his sister as “The Bitch.” But he has great admiration for his sister, thinks his niece is the most amazing person on earth, and suggests that his niece can aspire to be more than a Disney princess. Instead, his niece can aspire to be Kate Brooks.
Drew’s appreciation for Kate, his admiration for her work, and their fierce office competitiveness is what redeems Drew for me. This isn’t going to work for everyone because of the aforementioned problems. I’m fully aware of this; yet, I found this book compulsively readable; sexy and hilarious. I saw someone comment the other day that every time they laugh at one of Louis CK’s jokes, they are a bit chagrined. I feel a bit the same way.
What I really enjoyed was how these two characters, Drew and Kate were portrayed as true equals with overlapping strengths. One of my favorite scenes is how the “Olympic Games of Banking” was described when Drew and Kate are pitted against each other for an account:
And so it began — the Olympic Games of investment banking. I’d like to say it was a mature contest between two professional
and highly intelligent colleagues. I’d like to say it was friendly.
I’d like to…but I won’t. ’Cause I’d be lying.
Remember my father’s comment? The one about Kate being the first one in the office and the last to leave? It stuck in my mind
that whole night.
See, getting Anderson wasn’t just about putting on the best presentation, coming up with the best ideas. That’s what Kate thought — but I knew better. The man is my father, after all; we share the same DNA.
It was also about reward. Who was more dedicated. Who had earned it. And I was determined to show my father that I was that “who.”
So, the next day I come in an hour early. Later that morning when Kate arrives, I don’t look up from my desk, but I feel it when
she walks past my door.
See the look on her face? The slight pause in her step as she sees me? The scowl that comes when she realizes she’s the second to come in? See the steel in her eyes?
Obviously, I’m not the only one playing for keeps.
On Wednesday, then, I arrive at the same time to find Kate typing away at her desk. She looks up when she sees me. She smiles
cheerily. And waves.
I. Don’t. Think. So.
The day after that, I come in another half-hour earlier…and so on. Are you seeing the pattern here? By the time the next Friday
rolls around, I find myself walking up to the front of the building at four thirty.
It’s still dark. And as I get to the door of the building, guess who I see across from me, arriving at the exact same time?
Can you hear the hiss in my voice? I hope you can. We stand there looking each other in the eyes, clutching our extra-large caffeine filled double-mocha cappuccinos in our hands.
Kind of reminds you of one of those old westerns, doesn’t it? You know the ones I’m talking about — where the two guys walk down the empty street at high noon for a shootout. If you listen hard, you can probably hear the lonely call of a vulture in the background.
At the same moment, Kate and I drop our beverages and make a mad dash for the door. In the lobby, she pushes the elevator button furiously while I head for the stairs. Genius that I am, I figure I can take them three at a time. I’m almost six-feet — long legs. The only problem with this, of course, is that my office is on the fortieth floor.
As I finally reach our floor, panting and sweating, I see Kate leisurely leaning against her office door, coat off, a glass of water in
hand. She offers it to me, along with that breathtaking smile of hers.
It makes me want to kiss her and strangle her at the same time.
I’ve never been into S&M. But I’m beginning to see its benefits.
“Here you go. You look like you could use this, Drew.” She hands me the glass and flounces away. “Have a nice day.”
Sure, I’ll do that.
’Cause it’s just starting out great so far.
And for every degrading female moment (he refers to a hookup as a ride), there are offsetting moments like when Drew and his friends meet Kate’s best friend Delores who dresses in stilettos and corsets, an outfit you’d think Drew would automatically assign to a loose girl, but he and his friends pretty much dig her. Drew views his secretary as hot but awesome at her job. In fact, this whole narrative around his secretary kind of presents the duality of Drew’s personality – that he both objectivizes and appreciates women:
But I have rules — standards, you might say. One of them is no screwing around at the office. I don’t shit where I eat, I don’t fuck where I work. Never mind the sexual harassment issues it would bring up; it’s just not good business. It’s unprofessional.
So, because Erin is the only woman besides my blood relatives that I have platonic interactions with, she is also the only member of the opposite sex I’ve ever considered a friend. We have a great working relationship. Erin is simply…awesome.
That’s another reason I wouldn’t screw her even if she were spreadeagle on the desk begging for it. Believe it or not, a good secretary — a really good one — is hard to find. I’ve had girls work for me who were dumber than a whole bucket of dirt. I’ve had others who thought they could make it by just working on their backs, if you know what I mean. Those are the girls I want to meet in a bar on a Saturday night — not the kind I want answering my phones Monday morning.
The crux of the story is that Drew falls hard for Kate, so hard that she breaks his heart and he is immobilized for a week, laying about his apartment sniffing a pillow that smells like her. I’m giving away no spoilers. This is how the book opens. Kate, you see, has a boyfriend, and Drew wants nothing more than for Kate to be his. First, he thinks he just wants her for one night and then he realizes he totally loves her. And that is Drew’s “downfall.” The arc is watching Drew fall for Kate so hard that he can barely function and there is something gleefully wonderful about seeing the fall and the subsequent grovel. The grovel was so good in this book.
Oh, and the sex? Also really really good. So with the warnings and the misgivings, I’m giving this book a B-. I can’t fully endorse it because of some of the problematic themes but I have no problem copping to the fact that I enjoyed it so much.