Nasty stereotypes of Jews and others masquerading as a fairy tale
Toxic Bachelors. By Danielle Steel. Dell, 447 pp., $7.99, paperback.
Nobody expects social realism from Danielle Steel, but it’s still shocking to find Jews portrayed as monsters in her latest paperback. Toxic Bachelors is about three single men from different backgrounds who try to avoid marriage while cruising the Mediterranean on a 240-foot yacht. Charlie Harrington is philanthropist whom others see as “ever the polite and romantic Prince Charming.” Gray Hawk is a “penniless” artist who can somehow afford to live in the fashionable Meatpacking District of Manhattan while also paying for all the years of therapy needed by his psychotic dates. Adam Weiss is a “top lawyer” in the entertainment industry and a male slut: “Adam never had less than four women going at once, often five, sometimes six in a good week. And once, seven.”
Each man represents a spiritual as well as social “type”: Charlie is WASP-y, Gray makes a religion of art, and Adam is Jewish. Guess which one has an ineffectual father, a mother who is “a nagging bitch,” and a spoiled sister? If you said, “Adam,” you’re right. While Charlie’s dead parents were saintly and Gray’s were irresponsible but not malicious, Adam’s are cruel enough to make the Portnoys look like candidates for a lifetime achievement award from Parents’, magazine, even when they gather for the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur. Adam sees them as “freaks” who are no better than his sister: “She had never done anything with her life except get married and have two children.”
Danielle Steel is known for her fairy-tale endings, but if this is a “fairy tale,” it resembles one of the original Brothers Grimm stories more than their sanitized modern versions: a dark and nasty morality play masquerading as entertainment.
Best line: Steel departs from stereotypes when the director of a children’s shelter wonders if visitors can appreciate her work: “What did they know about a five-year-old who had had bleach poured in her eyes and would be blind for the best of her life, or a boy who had had his mother’s hot iron put on the side of his face, or the 12-year-old who had been raped by her father all her life and had cigarettes stubbed out on her chest?”
Worst line (tie): Winner No. 1: “He was well built and good-looking in an exotic, ethnic way.” In other words, he’s Jewish. Winner No. 2: “Yes,’ he said succinctly.”
Published: September 2006 (mass market paperback edition).
Posted by Janice Harayda
(c) 2006 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.