Trendy But Casual, novel by Paula Morris
Penguin New Zealand, 2007

There’s been a slight hold-up with the DJ’s book, because the ghostwriter handed in a slimmer volume than stipulated in the contract. But I think I’ve managed to bully the new intern into beefing up the manuscript. He’s just graduated from Brown, so he should have plenty of realistic drug-related material to add. He may even be an English major, though the Miramax editor told us to focus on lurid revelations of drug-crazed orgies and self-mutilation, and not to worry about sentence structure or grammar or quality of prose. Apparently, they add all that in just before printing.

Jane Shore has problems: she’s about to be evicted from her apartment; her career as a PR maven is stalling; and her attempt to impress a potential future boyfriend fails because she doesn’t even know the difference between flora and fauna.

After Jane disgraces herself at the record launch for hip-hop pretender RapStallion, she faces her worst fears: moving to Brooklyn, and losing her main account, To Do magazine, to her pixie-sized nemesis, Lee Munroe. And before she can ride off into the sunset on a pink-maned horse, Jane must face a series of ordeals, from a philosophy-themed bridal shower to a reality-stars-of-yesteryear party to a one-off performance of the hip-hopera Mary Rappins in Central Park …

Set in New York City, Trendy But Casual is a comedy of manners, a satire about the obsession with celebrity, and an important warning to young people everywhere about the dangers of getting naked in Williamsburg.

Reviews

“Fresh, witty and delectably readable … Trendy But Casual has its identifiable antecedents – Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City, the feckless men come from Nick Hornby and, maybe, the soliloquies on facial cleansing from Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. But what is impressive is how well this carefully observed, richly textured cleverboots of a novel can sustain the comparisons … The novel has the authentic touch of a seasoned campaigner but the view is from the wary eye of an outsider, with a sympathy for status anxiety, a radar for the bogus and a nose for horseshit – actual and metaphysical. Trendy But Casual is sharp, on-the-money and laugh-out-loud funny. It deserves to be the talk of the season.”
– Murray Bramwell, New Zealand Books

“Paula Morris abandons her former territory – incisive, complex portraits of New Zealanders at home and abroad – to deliver a breezy “comedy of bad manners” … Morris vividly evokes the ur-city in all its hectic glory … [and] captures the vanity of turn of the century Manhattan in a blizzard of knowing cultural references.”
– Jolisa Gracewood, New Zealand Listener